It would be difficult to imagine any 2020 round-up of business activity in Rome without a reference to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the shutdown of in-person dining in local restaurants to temporary shutdowns of industry, the pandemic has been felt in virtually every business across Rome and Floyd County.

Just this past week, Jimmy John’s gourmet sandwich shop in Charles Hight Square on Turner McCall Boulevard shut its doors and posted a note on the entrance door which read, “Due to loss in sales because of the COVID pandemic we have reached a point where our family can no longer take on the financial burden.”

On the other hand, four new restaurants have just opened in the East Bend shopping center: Panda Express, Chipotle, Texas Roadhouse and McAlister’s Deli.

Business at all four has been brisk.

Job-building efforts brought results to the tune of several industrial expansions across the county.

Ball Corp. in Shannon brought its new recyclable beverage container plant online and added a new line to make smaller aluminum beverage cans inside the older, existing building.

Kerry, F&P Georgia, VT Industries, Marglen and Sunrise Manufacturing all revealed expansion plans this year.

F&P Georgia actually came back to the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority a second time, when the company learned they would be getting a new contract in 2022.

The company decided to roll their existing expansion into a previously announced one in order to take advantage of one-time expenses related to the issuance of new bonds for their growth.

Summit Hill Foods, formerly known as Southeastern Mills, rolled out its new corporate name on top of exercising its option to purchase property in the Floyd County Industrial Park for an expansion of its new warehousing and distribution facility.

The Rome-Floyd County Development Authority continued, without any visible success, efforts to locate additional acreage for future industrial growth.

Jimmy Byars, chairman of the authority, said the agency is looking at a couple of promising prospects for land, but is nowhere close to making a purchase.

Byars also said that he’s been very happy with the interest shown in recent months in the 110 acre tract at the intersection of Ga. 53 and 140 northeast of Rome.

They’re cautiously optimistic they’ll be able to land someone at that site in 2021.

Downtown Rome got a new Downtown Development director in 2020.

Aundi Lesley moved in from Carrollton to take the post vacated by Amanda Carter, who became a downtown business operator herself. Carter took over Whistle Britches at 206 Broad St. midway through the year.

Lesley brought small business development experience to the Rome post and has said she is ready to move forward with new ideas once the grip of COVID-19 is loosened.

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