So who gets custody of economic development as Al Hodge retires from the Rome Floyd Chamber?
As surprised as many were by Monday’s announcement that Hodge, president and chief executive officer of one of the most successful chambers in the state, was stepping down soon at age 63 after 21 years here, some under-the-radar moves picked up speed to decide what’s next when it comes to courting new industry and higher-paying jobs.
The prominent discussion that filled our ear Monday afternoon and evening was a panel with City Commission/County Commission blessings and perhaps some sort of new director. That’s an interesting one as one of the raps on local development has been the relationship between the community’s two largest governments.
Imagine taking this one step further — an industry does commit to coming here under this new scenario. Exactly who decides which site gets the potential new taxpayer, city land or county land? Likewise, what if one government doesn’t bless an incentive such as a tax allocation district and the other one does?
Plus, can we even pay this new development czar? We apparently couldn’t afford to match the offer given to the local airport director, one of the state’s best, when Athens came calling.
We also hear stalled efforts to merge the two local development authorities will gain traction, perhaps as custody of economic development is decided.
And what becomes the driving focus of the Rome Floyd Chamber? Economic development is at the heart of every business under the chamber’s umbrella, from industry to healthcare to higher education to small business to technology and more. Simply said, it’s all connected. But maybe not going forward.
Our guess is it will come down to two sides: Build on the foundation at the chamber or watch control of economic development switch from the private sector with heavy government influence. This could make the downtown parking and smoking controversies look like pillow fights. The time to choose sides is now, especially for those who prefer the current chamber model who are still reeling from Hodge’s retirement decision.
The story: Business: Al Hodge announces retirement from Rome Floyd Chamber in April. Click Hodge
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