Help wanted: A Northwest Georgia county with one of the state’s top healthcare communities, four colleges, top-performing public and private K-12 school systems and an emerging tech hub seeks a skilled ambassador to foster a collaborative effort to attract new industry and grow existing community partners.
Amenities include abundant outdoor activities, a two-time champion minor league baseball team, decorated college and high school sports programs, several busy “downtown” retail districts (urban and rural) and a knack for drawing major collegiate title competitions to town.
This ambassador must be willing to travel to Atlanta, to Washington, to Europe and to Asia on regular recruiting missions. Enhanced consideration will be given to candidates who already have strong ties to overseas communities, including related trade groups and associations.
Existing links to federal and state governments are a must, including a cell phone contact list with quick access to each. Service on any state boards that have natural ties to the community — especially economic development and education — will move this candidate to the top of the list.
Also critical: Top-of-mind knowledge of all available incentives to help with corporate recruitment, relocation, expansion and retention.
He or she also must know how to promote a community that has seen slow growth even as surrounding counties flourish mostly because of access to Interstate 75.
Another plus would be the applicant’s ability to swiftly incorporate the existing business community into the digital world, perhaps creating a sustaining environment nurturing annual seminars designed to spur tomorrow’s ideas today, a roundtable gathering that seeks collaborative contributions from those with similar interests in the community and craft methods to support both new and existing industry that thrives online.
The top candidate also must have the ability to:
- Successfully recruit new industry even with stated hardships such as the lack of quick access to major interstates and a seemingly never-ending battle to get a better link to that interstate.
- Explain to potential suitors why the expansion of the current airport runways continues to lag. Likewise, why the current extension plan probably still isn’t enough for some of today’s corporate requirements.
- Also, you’ll need to explain why one of the state’s top aviation directors was lured to Athens-Clarke County without receiving at least a matching benefits package offer.
- Have answers for why this was among the early communities in Georgia to lose both Sears and Kmart (in the same calendar year), contributing to a glut of vacant retail space. Likewise, support ongoing campaigns to “shop local” and “Small Business Saturday” even as the online worlds of Amazon and Walmart continue to gobble market share.
- Gently lead the “leaders” who too often worry more about short-term effects (angry Facebook rants) vs. the five- or 10-year focus the community needs.
- Negotiate through — and compensate for — the drama that is best described as a bipolar relationship between the community’s city and county governments.
Another needed attribute is the ability to deflect the negativism known as the “what have you done for me lately syndrome” even after assembling an A-list of new international and national industries that are the envy of other Georgia counties. While those of all races and nationalities are encouraged to apply, those with the thickest of skins are best suited for this position.
Compensation: A successful candidate’s salary and benefits package will be determined by his/her experience. See the reference to the airport director’s position when it comes to negotiations.
References required. All applicants should include an ample number of federal and state elected officials as well as administrators and international trade group representatives.
Recommendations appreciated: Anyone who knows someone matching the above requirements and needs is asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Community at the Dangerous Crossroads:
We recommend Albert M. Hodge Jr., Rome, Ga., as he has all the above attributes and an even deeper list of required contacts, sources and relationships. A relocation bonus would not be required.
Chamber of commerce members who will not be relegated to the “children’s table at Thanksgiving” if economic development shifts to government control.
John Druckenmiller is editor and publisher of Hometown Headlines Inc. Agree or disagree? Email us at email@example.com