While it may work for a laugh on the TV show “The Simpsons,” Georgia Power’s CEO said, “when you turn on a nuclear plant you don’t want Homer Simpson to work there.”
Paul Bowers, who is also the chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce board, used that as an illustration of the importance of education.
Bowers’ comments were made Tuesday during a breakfast with area business leaders at Berry College.
The state chamber is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and is holding a series of meetings with business leaders across the state.
Bowers told the crowd education is critical to meeting the needs of the workforce.
Georgia Power has more than 600 job openings every year and gets thousands of applications.
“Fifty percent of those people who apply to Georgia Power can’t pass the basic employment test. Not because of drugs; it’s because of fundamentals,” Bowers said.
He stressed that technological advances taking place all over the state are creating multiple platforms for future jobs. The Georgia Power executive said there are more than 1,800 start-up companies in Atlanta today.
“Our universities are a great hub for launching entrepreneurs,” Bowers said.
When it comes to transportation, Bowers said Georgia has to have better connectivity. He also suggested that mass transit needs to be a part of the equation for getting people into and out of the state.
“Investments we are making in transportation should be applauded not demonized because we’re making tough choices,” Bowers said.
Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said that strong leadership and a diverse manufacturing base are among the key positives for the Greater Rome area.
He pointed out that a special purpose, local option sales tax approved by voters in 2013 that will add 1,000 feet to the main runway at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport will remove one of the negatives.
Bowers said Shorter University, Berry College, Georgia Highlands College and Georgia Northwestern Technical College are also a major draw for the community, and at the nudging of Roman Frank Barron, both Clark and Bowers agreed that Rome’s medical community is also a plus.
“Leadership matters. Engagement matters,” Bowers said. “We’re making things better for those who come behind us.”