The search for an industrial development director ended just down the highway. Tuesday morning, the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority voted unanimously to hire Melissa “Missy” Kendrick as the new president of Economic Development for Rome and Floyd County. Most recently, she’s served as president of the Development Authority of Polk County.
The vote ends almost a year of change that saw economic development eventually plucked from the Rome Floyd Chamber and eventually coming under the development authority. We have more on the journey below.
First, who is Missy Kendrick (from a media release from the development authority):
Kendrick served as the 2018 chair of the Georgia Economic Developers Association and will take over the Rome Floyd County presidency later this summer.
“Missy brings over 25 years of experience in economic development in the state of Georgia,” says authority chair Jimmy Byars of Hardy Realty. She is “well qualified to lead Rome and Floyd County in this new chapter of economic development for our community.
She has “directly contributed to the creation of over 850 jobs and $330 million in new investment. Most recently, she served as president of the Development Authority of Polk County where she assisted in the location or expansion of 15 businesses or industries representing $92 million in capital investment and 391 new jobs for Polk County since 2016.
Says Kendrick: “I look forward to working with the board and other economic development stakeholders in Rome and Floyd County to develop a cohesive strategy for quality economic growth.”
Her Facebook page lists these career stops:
Studied Business Management and Administration at Gordon State College, at Columbus State University, Columbus, and at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College at Bainbridge.
About the hire: At the June 21 meeting, Byars said the goal was hire an industrial recruit to lead the newly created three-person city/county department by late June or early this month. Thirty-one people applied for the post and, as of June 21, seven had been interviewed. Heather Seckman of the chamber’s economic development team will fill the no. 2 slot in the department with an administrative person also to be hired.
How we got to this point:
Last summer, the Rome Floyd Chamber’s board was told that county leaders wanted to change the way economic development was conducted in the community. Leveraging its annual contributions, the county told the board it wanted to basically revert to a system very similar to the industrial development team that was phased out more than two decades ago. There was no formal opposition to the county’s mandate from the chamber’s volunteer leadership.
In mid October, chamber president and chief executive officer Al Hodge announced he’d be retiring in April after 21 years at the helm. One of the most connected economic development experts in the state with strong ties to Japan, Hodge and his team helped bring Pirelli, Lowe’s distribution and other major players to the far west side of the state. Hodge, 63 at the time, left chamber management in late January with Jeanne Krueger named interim director.
Earlier, the County Commission, in a surprise 5-0 vote, had blessed the “new model” for economic development; city commissioners, scheduled to vote on the same day, balked, citing a lack of details, including key funding issues.
For several months, city and county commission members as well as administrative staff bickered about the makeup of the new industrial recruiting department, especially how it would be funded. A joint meeting at the emergency operations center was especially testy.
A brief custody battle ensued concerning oversight of the new city/county agency. The Rome Floyd County Development Authority, funded in part by the ongoing “PILOT” fees (payments in lieu of taxes), basically stepped up to say it had the resources and expertise to lead industrial development.
The authority, as well as both governments, each pledged $150,000 a year for three years ($450,000 per agency or $1.35 million) to incubate the industrial development department. After that point, the goal was for the department to be self-sustaining — with an extended lifeline from the governments for an additional eight years to handle potential funding shortages.