Several times in the last couple of weeks we have reported on the effort to “rebrand” the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority. It really raises the greater issue of branding Rome altogether.
What is it that Rome hangs its hat on? What aspect(s) of the community should Rome hang its hat on?
I’ve written about this once before, but I’m going to take another stab at it since a couple of things have happened since then.
Rome has more water passing through on a daily basis than Atlanta. A lot more. The Oostanaula and Etowah rivers are, after all, the reasons why the city is here in the first place.
Meeting in present day downtown to form the Coosa, they were the original interstate system for Native Americans and the early Anglo settlers.
To put that in a little more perspective, we’ve only had trains and trucks for less than 200 years. Those rivers have been moving folks a heckuva lot longer than that
I’ve only somewhat jokingly tried to tell economic development leaders Rome needs to attract a major brewery. Rome could easily supply water to a major brewery and it would accomplish two things. It would provide lots of jobs and the city would benefit mightily from the sale of water. Shoot, your residential water rates would probably go down!
Since some of the large textile producers have vanished from the industrial scene and companies like International Paper and Bekaert have adopted aggressive recycling programs, water consumption in Rome is a fraction of what it was 30 years ago.
Secondly, use of the rivers for recreation has gone up in the last decade but there is room for more use. Again, I say a lot more. Just ask Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor about use of the two boat launches he’s built in recent years. The first at Macedonia Rd and US 411 and the second on Hardin Bridge Rd. He’s said he’d like to build two more. Folks spend time on the water and then money in restaurants to eat.
I understand the litigation that is underway about the chemicals that textile folks to our north have been putting into the rivers and the concern the case raises but the rivers are a whole lot cleaner than they used to be!
I will confess here that I need to come up with a better name for this. I suppose I should consult a 25 year old creative thinker.
Let me explain what I mean.
We’ve all heard the phrase “outside of the box”. I’m currently typing this into my phone seated in my recliner. That’s outside of this fella’s box.
We’ve got four colleges in Rome that are well-positioned to aid young folks in their effort to find a career they can support themselves in, and probably a family for the future. Berry has its Hackberry Lab for creative thinkers, and Rome has the Makervillage. Technology is changing so quickly and there is no reason Rome can’t be a leader in advancing new ideas. Why can’t Rome be the next Silicon Valley or Golden Triangle (the latter in North Carolina for those who might not know)?
Those type of enterprises don’t always start with big numbers of jobs but look at the way Google and Facebook have grown.
We’ve said for years that we want to find a way to keep college graduates in Rome. Foster a way to help them put their unique talents to work. I don’t suspect incentives for that kind of job creation would be nearly as expensive as the incentives huge manufacturers are asking for — free land being one example. We could help by offering somewhat reduced price office space. Government has already assisted some in that area by designating several opportunity zones in Rome for job creation.
We don’t have to reinvent the wheel to restore Rome to its rightful position as the hub for life in the Coosa Valley.