The kickoff meeting is set this Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in room 101 of the Clayton State University’s Harry S. Downs Center for Continuing Education, 2000 Clayton State Blvd. in Morrow.
It will be facilitated by economic development specialists from Georgia Tech. Light refreshments will be served.
This kickoff meeting is part of an eight-step planning process which also includes facilitating a steering committee, reviewing recent initiatives, interviewing stakeholders, hosting community forums, engaging Clayton State University, performing a target industry analysis and developing the strategic plan.
The plan will recommend ways the county can take advantages if its many economic development strengths, including Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, transportation and logistical assets such as access to air transportation, an extensive rail network and interstate highway connections, being the center of the metropolitan Atlanta area.
In addition, the program will highlight a strong core of established industry, a growing four-year public education university and a water system with sufficient capacity.
Jason Chernock, project manager with the Community Innovations Services Group at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, said that what stands out about Clayton County is its strong future potential.
“The county has all of the physical pieces for economic development,” he said. “It needs a unifying vision, strategic plan and consensus on how to implement the plan.”
Chernock added that the job of the enterprise innovation institute is to, “bring people together to find the common ground.”
The county’s last comprehensive economic development plan was produce more than a decade ago and much has changed since then.
Like many communities, Clayton County has faced the loss of jobs from the recession, a slowdown in development and declining real estate values.
“This will be a comprehensive strategic planning process which will involve a lot of research, a lot of public engagement, a lot of interaction with community leaders and the facilitation of a plan,” Chernock said.
“The plan will include everything from mission and vision statements, goals and objectives and benchmarks to information on roles and responsibilities,” he added.
A steering committee will guide the efforts, led by co-chairs Yulonda Beauford president and CEO of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce and Larry Vincent, chairman of the Development Authority of Clayton County.
The committee will also include representatives from Clayton County municipalities, as well as numerous private and public sector entities that will play a role in the county’s future economic development.
The planning process will also include an opportunity for public input. Also represented on the steering committee is Clayton State University, a unit of the University System of Georgia with approximately 7,000 students and nearly 200 full-time faculty members.
Thomas Hynes, president of Clayton State University, said that with Clayton State being a public-supported university, “we believe we must serve as a steward of place.”
“Whether through contributing to a more educated workforce, sharing faculty and student knowledge resources in management, small business and entrepreneurship, logistics, health care archival research or advancing the arts and social sciences, this economic analysis will help our shared work in the community and the region.”