It’s been a real hoot this week, watching visitors from across the country wandering around Rome hunting for hidden items as part of the Going Caching event. We’ve got a pretty vital town and this week the whirlwind of activity has been even more amazing.

I love riding up and down Broad Street at dusk and seeing virtually every parking space taken. It’s awesome to ride by the hotels and see the parking lots full. It’s actually pretty cool to have to wait in line to get seated at any of the local restaurants. It is even nicer to realize the reason for the back-up is related to the crowd and not just COVID staffing shortages. Yes, I do know that’s a factor as well and it’s a problem that we cannot ignore.

It is simply stunning to me that we still have hiring and staffing issues at so many places, given the ridiculously low unemployment rate for Rome and Northwest Georgia. We’ve got to find some folks and let them know what a wonderful part of the world we live in and convince a few that this is a fabulous place to call home.

The next question you might ask is where will new folks live, considering that we’ve been groaning about a housing shortage for close to two years. Action is taking place to deal with that.

Next week the Rome-Floyd County Planning Commission will consider a request for a massive new subdivision off Chulio Road. The opposition, based on a variety of grounds, is expected to be so significant that the planning office has decided to move the hearing to the city auditorium, which can accommodate more people.

It is important to remember that the meeting will take place Tuesday afternoon, instead of to the usual first Thursday of the month session.

It is also pretty important to consider that any development would be done in phases. There’s no way a developer is going to throw up 1,000 homes in that area at one time.

Aside from that project, I suspect many of you have seen the massive amount of dirt that has been moved across from the Floyd County Jail for a new subdivision that may turn out to be as much as 30 acres larger than originally contemplated. The number of new homes was pegged at 60 to 70, but could grow closer to 100 before it is all said and done.

There are also plans for a development of more than 30 homes off Old Summerville Road, and a couple of large apartment/condo projects are in the early stages. One of them I feel pretty comfortable will happen across the Oostanaula River in the River District. The Four Stone Real Estate group is supposed to be building just under 300 units there and construction, which would begin with the demolition of several older buildings, could begin later this fall.

So the housing issue is being addressed.

Time to return to the jobs issue.

We’ve got plenty of jobs available in Rome right now. Just check out the Rome Floyd Chamber website, or the Georgia Department of Labor website.

As someone who has covered a lot of meetings of the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority and the Development Authority of Floyd County in recent years, I’m pretty optimistic that it won’t be long before our community lands a new industrial prospect.

I have no insider information here; just a couple of ears that have listened to a lot of the hush-hush talk and a reasonable intuition that tells me we are close. Does that guarantee we land the so-called big fish? Absolutely not. But with enough prospects sniffing ‘round the hook, sooner or later one of them is going to bite. I suspect it will be sooner.

We already know that Ball Corp. is going to be building again. The company has added a production line in the can plant and the new aluminum beverage cup plant that is running full bore. A new warehouse and distribution center is planned for the 110-acre tract at the intersection of Ga. 140 and 53. I’m not sure how many jobs that will ultimately add.

Missy Kendrick and Jimmy Byars have been hinting that a prospect or two has already shown some interest in the Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital property in West Rome.

I can also tell those of you who perhaps don’t get out of Rome often that new construction of the industrial ilk is literally booming in Adairsville. A couple of buildings are underway in the Georgia North Industrial Park, and grading has just started on a nearly 700,000-square-foot spec building on the opposite side of Ga. 140.

People who find jobs in those plants are going to have to find a place to live and I would suggest Rome and Floyd County is a great place to plant roots.

Our housing market is improving and our quality of life is tough to beat.

Doug Walker is the former associate editor at the Rome News-Tribune and now works as a public information officer at the City of Rome.

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