Leaders of the Appalachian Regional Commission visited Rome earlier this week and it was interesting to hear some of the comments from Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin.

She stressed to the handful of local leaders who participated in the meet and greet that the ARC is not some conglomerate in Washington charged with doling out cash to communities across 13 states, but rather it partners with states and local communities in economic development projects.

Following a presentation to the group by City Manager Sammy Rich and Missy Kendrick, the president of the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority, Manchin told the locals she was proud to “see people exemplifying our mission.”

I believe it was the late Rome City Commissioner Napoleon Fielder who popularized the phrase “Working together works.”

Partnerships and working together have been heavy on my mind since the ARC visit Tuesday. Actually, partnerships have been on my mind for a pretty good while.

All one needs to do is turn back to the very first chapters of the ultimate blueprint for a life to realize we we’re not here on this planet to go it alone.

The Creator introduced man to preserve and protect what he created. Then he created a partner for man. We were meant to have relationships. We are meant to work together for good.

Obviously, history has shown us that we don’t always get along. We aren’t always on the same page and it’s generally because we have become selfish and have become more interested in advancing ourselves.

If you’re a politician, particularly at the state or national level, you can take this personally.

If we don’t care who gets the credit for something, it’s amazing what we can accomplish.

Berry College President Steve Briggs cited public-private partnerships during his graciously brief remarks at the ribbon-cutting for the college’s new Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel adjacent to the Rome Tennis Center.

Another great example is the fundraising that was done by TRED, to keep the first phase of the Redmond Trail project alive. It took a whole decade to get it done, but sometime this summer we are going to be walking on that quarter of a mile trail that connects the Oostanaula Levee across Little Dry Creek to the Mount Berry Trail.

Each and every Tax Allocation District project in Rome — from the Ledbetters’ RiverWalk and East Bend shopping centers, to the Williams Real Estate RiverPoint apartments, to the Courtyard by Marriott — is another example.

All of them have provided jobs and are generating tax revenue for the community.

Working together works.

This community is going to have to work together to make the kind of strides that most leaders want to make as we advance through the next couple of decades.

Quite frankly, we are going to have to forget our imaginary geopolitical boundaries, whether it is city to county, county to county or state to state.

What benefits Rome benefits Floyd County. We’ve all heard folks whine, myself included to be totally honest, when Bartow or Gordon county along I-75 announces another plant is coming and we wonder why it isn’t Floyd County. Do you think that some residents of Rome and Floyd County don’t get jobs in those plants? By the same token, don’t you think the same thing happens across the line in Cherokee County, Alabama?

Back in the days when I was one of those talking heads on the radio and found myself pontificating about the next SPLOST package coming to a vote, inevitably someone would call in and scold me for supporting a penny tax in Floyd County because I didn’t live in Floyd County.

My response was ALWAYS: I may not sleep every night in Floyd County, but I darn sure “live” in Floyd County. I spend the overwhelming majority of my money in Floyd County, whether it’s buying a new car — kudos to Riverside Toyota and University CDJR — or eating lunch somewhere on Broad Street or at one of the myriad of fast food restaurants on Turner McCall Boulevard, Shorter Avenue or Martha Berry Boulevard.

Our community has some significant growth challenges facing us, from transportation issues that I discussed in this space last week, to creating new jobs to providing attractive amenities that will draw more folks to visit our community. We’ve got to work together to make it all happen — and that means working together among city and county leaders, among city, county and state leaders, and among local and national leaders.

Gayle Manchin, who is the wife of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, understands the concept really well and I hope that her tour of Rome this week, along with other ARC leaders, will lead to an even stronger partnership with our community in the future.

But it starts with all of us helping each other, not trying to protect our own individual turf at all costs.

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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