Chamber board backs tweaked version of The Big Switch, surrendering economic development while embracing mostly a ‘networking’ culture.

Chamber board backs tweaked version of The Big Switch, surrendering economic development while embracing mostly a ‘networking’ culture.

The first words you see on the chamber’s website after the logo are ‘Economic Development.’ The chamber’s board of directors voted Wednesday to transfer those duties to an existing or new development authority, basically narrowing the chamber’s focus to primarily networking events.
A closed door meeting of the board of directors of the Rome Floyd Chamber on Wednesday ended with a tweaked endorsement of The Big Switch and the apparent abandonment of the very first thing someone reads about first on the chamber website as you click the “about us” feature at romega.com. The first words you see on the chamber’s website, aside from the logo, are “economic development.”
The statement from the board states that, if or when both the City Commission and County Commission bless the latest proposal to move economic development from the chamber, the board will “stand united with city and county officials in implementing a new economic development model.” The board is recommending the Rome Floyd County Development Authority “be tasked with industry recruitment under the new model to ensure representation from the chamber members and GREIA (existing industry).”
The board vote basically updates the surprise support of the original Big Switch plan that would have had six members appointed by the city and county commissions as a new economic development board was created. The full text of the release follows:
The following non-binding resolution was approved by the Executive Committee of the Rome Floyd Chamber at a called meeting on Oct. 25, 2018.
Note: Changed the underlined word at request of Chamber Board on Dec. 5, 2018.
Motion to support the new marketing concept presented by the county and city study group assuming common agreement of the two commissions. The resolution was made with the understanding that the consideration and approval of the new marketing model for the community will be made by the two commissions.
On Wednesday Dec. 5, 2018, the Rome Floyd Chamber Board of Directors voted unanimously to ratify the resolution submitted by the Executive Committee, meaning the chamber will move forward and stand united with city and county officials in implementing a new economic development model. This new model, if adopted by the city and county, would allow the chamber to serve a growing membership in new and exciting ways.
The chamber has recommended that the Rome Floyd County Development Authority be tasked with industry recruitment under the new model to ensure representation from the chamber members and GREIA (existing industry) members.
The chamber’s mission remains to promote prosperity and growth in Rome and Floyd County through business memberships and these efforts will only be strengthened by this transition. The chamber will continue to grow and support economic development through the work of existing programs such as Education and Workforce Development, Governmental Affairs, Transportation, the Small Business Action Council, Technology Squaretable and more.
This change will allow the chamber to build upon the success of these programs, while also providing openings for new and innovative ways to bolster commerce in Rome and Floyd County through our members. We are excited for the opportunities that lie ahead.
What’s interesting is how Wednesday’s board vote, said to be unanimous, flies exactly opposite of what you find on the “about us” page on the chamber website. It reads (as of Wednesday night, at least):

The Rome Floyd Chamber is a non-profit organization established in 1910 working to promote prosperity in Rome and Floyd County for and through its business membership.

Rome-Floyd County 20/20 Strategic Plan: In 1998, an economic development strategic planning joint venture, initiated by the Rome City Commission, Floyd County Commission and the Rome Floyd Chamber, was created: The plan adopted 20 ambitious goals to be accomplished in the next 20 years to make the community a better place to work, invest and live. These goals included five main objectives: build a stronger economy, build a more skilled workforce, protect and improve our quality of life assets, build a quality physical infrastructure for growth and make more efficient use of government resources. Since its creation, many of the goals of the Rome-Floyd County 20/20 Strategic Plan have been accomplished and have even exceeded expectations. The plan is revisited every five years to determine what accomplishments have been made, what needs to be changed and what new goals should be added to continue the community’s growth and prosperity.

Partners in Prosperity III: ​Partners in Prosperity III is a community and economic development initiative of the Rome Floyd Chamber. This is the third phase of the Rome-Floyd 20/20 Strategy. During Partners in Prosperity I (2005-2009) and Partners in Prosperity II (2010-2014), the chamber worked with public and private partners to:

  • Attract New and Diverse Businesses to Rome and Floyd County
  • Retain and Expand Existing Businesses
  • Improve the Overall Quality of Life in the Community

Partners in Prosperity III (2015-2019) will continue to:

  • Implement the core strategies for economic and community development.
  • Improve our competitive position in advance future economic challenges
  • Introduce new initiatives to further diversify our economy
  • Encourage entrepreneurship
  • Strengthen Education and Workforce training

So ti looks like a new “about us” page will be needed soon. In the last paragraphs of the chamber board release from Wednesday, it talks about ongoing chamber projects such as the Small Business Action Council (primarily responsible for the annual Expo), the monthly technology “roundtable,” workforce development and transportation, and governmental affairs. Basically, the chamber primarily would become a networking hub with its other existing offerings including business after/before hours, ribbon cuttings, the annual meeting and such.

So what’s next

  • The City Commission has yet to agree to any of the new economic development proposals, including the original Big Switch or the newly scripted version tentatively blessed by the chamber board.
  • It appears the County Commission will have to vote anew as the hurried-up plan all five members endorsed Nov. 13 has now been changed.
  • All the costs of the transition need to be worked out, and that’s assuming the $357,000 annual budget assembled by City Manager Sammy Rich still stands. It called for the hiring of an industrial relations director, a second person to work with existing industry and an administrative assistant ($235,000 in salaries alone before benefits and perks).
  • What changes, if any, would be made to the Rome Floyd Economic Development Authority should it assume liability for industrial recruitment.
  • The hiring of a new leader for the Rome Floyd Chamber as Al Hodge’s retirement is set for April 19.  That in addition to the costs associated with the hiring of a new economic development team.

BELOW:

The original plan as endorsed by the executive committee of the chamber, a move which sparked Wednesday’s called board meeting to begin with:

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