Missy Kendrick, named president of the Rome Floyd Economic Development Authority, met with Rome City commissioners during the caucus session Monday evening. Kendrick, who held a similar position in Polk County before starting in Rome/Floyd on Aug. 1, talked about what’s under way; personnel; website development and branding; and other updates. A video report appears above, lasting 9:15 minutes. We apologize for the sound quality; please turn your computer’s speakers up to hear it.
Some of the breakouts include:
- Personnel: Heather Seckman, formerly with the chamber, is the new project manager.
- Sidebar: Ken Wright “is still working with existing industry” which will stay part of the chamber per a decision by the Greater Rome Existing Industries Association.
- Prospects: She mentioned some of the 14 active prospects, both new and existing industry, together worth $762 million and perhaps with 1,889. Even landing a few of those would be key, she says. (From what we hear: The community has been working on a project that could be public within the month, one that dates back perhaps to 2018).
- Imaging: Talked about developing a website and honing in on branding. The agency would work with Georgia Power on its development. The outcome, she says, is knowing “what we are going to look like when we grow up.”
- More web: They’re already using email with email@example.com so a name perhaps is designated. In Bartow County, economic development uses locationofchoice.com which also works with locationbartow.com.
- Retreat and planning: A board retreat is being planned (with the developent authority members and staff).
- Soliciting public/private partnerships. Among those conversations is development of a spec building. (There are a couple of million dollars in allocated SPLOST funds for this purpose — and for additional land purchases; the governments have yet to act on tapping it). Also, the agency wants Realtors to work with them to enhance the data base of available properties, industries and commercial. The existing lists of spaces and property is on the chamber’s romega.com website under the pull down “economic development.”
- Regional stance: Kendrick says there’s an “opportunity” to work with neighboring counties to “work together as a region” to bring in new industry. Perhaps a recent example was the Ball Corp. purchase from the Floyd/Gordon development authority earlier this year.
- Closing: She invited the commissioners to contact her for updates and other information. Mayor Bill Collins thanked Kendrick for her outline and she has the full support of the commission.
Kendrick is making the rounds this week. She’s also due at the Rome Floyd Chamber’s Small Business Action Council meeting this morning at 8:30. The meeting is at the chamber at 1 Riverside Parkway.
Background: For more than a year, county government had pushed for changes in economic development, including separting it from the chamber. The bargaining chip was funding. It came to a head last fall with a rushed approval by the County Commission with almost zero public notice. A similar bid before the City Commission soon after failed as commissioners asked for specifics on funding, organization and other needs — none of which existed. Al Hodge announced his retirement from the chamber after 21 years. While effective in April, Hodge left in mid-January.
After custody of the new economic development agency was awarded to the Rome-Floyd Development Authority, the city, county and development authority agreed to each contribute $150,000 a year for three years to help incubate the new city/county agency (almost $1.5 million total or $450,000 per city, county and authority). That’s more than triple what was being paid to the chamber in the previous format for economic development by the city and county. The agreement also includes compensating for any financial shortfalls for another eight years.
A search soon began for an executive director. The surprise choice was Kendrick, who had been working in Polk County in recent years. Her first day was Aug. 1.
What’s next: Keep an eye on the business community. There’s already talk of pushing to reunify economic development and the chamber.