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County hears economic development update
by Mary Cosgrove
mcosgrove@neighbornewspapers.com
August 23, 2012 01:02 PM | 1260 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
While the country still works to pull itself out of the recession, indications show Georgia and Henry County are moving forward with economic development.

Gretchen Corbin, Deputy Commissioner for Global Commerce at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, shared recent acquisitions in the state of Georgia and the positive outlook for Henry County during the Henry County Council for Quality Growth’s August luncheon.

“We see a lot of activity in Henry County,” she said. “We are always excited to work with Henry County.”

Some recent developments Corbin listed in Georgia include Caterpillar in Athens, which will create 1,400 jobs and Baxter in Covington, which will create 1,800 jobs and is a $1.3 billion investment.

“Baxter is the largest investment we have seen in the state of Georgia,” she said.

Lowes in Rome will bring 600 jobs and Starbucks in Augusta will create 140 new jobs.

And previous economic developments have potential to continue generating further developments. Corbin pointed out such an instance with Kia Motors plant in West Point, one of the largest developments to date in Georgia. Several developments have cropped up nearby the plant as suppliers, with the most recent being Mando America opening in Meriwether County.

The brake, steering, suspension and drive-shaft part supplier had its groundbreaking nearly a year ago.

Corbin said bringing in new business is a combination of persistence, flexibility and relationship building.

Some companies take several years to decide where to locate, whereas others can take only a year.

She advised growth council members that the best thing a county can do is having a comprehensive incentive package prepared for potential companies and give the development authority the trust and power to not only lead negotiations but to be flexible during.

If a development authority can’t answer questions on the spot and provide flexibility without checking with the other governing bodies of the county, it’s going to weaken their pitch, Corbin said.

“We see this happen,” she said. “There are two types of communities, one that gives them the answer or the second type that says ‘Good questions, let me get with my board and get back with you.’

“Empower your local economic developers to speak on behalf of you. Give them a little wiggle room.”

Corbin said Henry County’s economic development set up is strong, especially with having a growth council.

“Having a council for quality growth in one community is pretty special,” she said. “Growth — good growth, quality growth — is a priority here.”

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