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Much of today will be spent at the Courtyard Rome Riverwalk for Rome city commissioners, staffers and others.
Today marks the annual planning retreat for the city and we’re just glad it is in Rome and not the foothills of Dahlonega in Northeast Georgia as was the case last April. We never did understand why city government exported a city meeting and personnel some 60 miles out of town – or used taxpayer money for accommodations, travel and such.
Besides, based on the agenda we were sent, the city has a full day ahead. Critical topics such as downtown, the River District, economic development and the chamber, quality of life, tennis.
But what’s interesting about this year’s meeting, in part, isn’t just a filled agenda. Helping “facilitate” the meeting is Elyse Davis, a community and economic development professional for Georgia Power.
Davis has nearly 30 years in the business. She serves on several local boards and has strong contacts.
While stalking her Wednesday night as we wrote this, we found a video with Davis and Missy Kendrick, then the leader of Polk County’s economic development push. Since August, Kendrick has been the administrative head of the Rome-Floyd County Economic Development Authority.
The video is chatty and underscores Georgia Power’s relationship with local governments and such when it comes to development issues.
We’ve seen Georgia Power as a player over the years. Still, we were surprised to hear how much sway the utility had in some of the recent economic development matters in Rome and Floyd County, including personnel review.
The recruitment of Davis to facilitate the city meetings today underscores that as do some of her board appointments.
And then there’s the recent $10,000 donation by Georgia Power to the Rome-Floyd Economic Development Authority to help get its website up and running.
And there’s the announcement that Georgia Power Regional Manager Cassandra Wheeler is the chair-elect of the Rome Floyd Chamber, set to lead the group starting January 2021.
If anything, some people thought the presence of Georgia Power might be easing here with the November 2018 closing and recent sale of the 800 Broad St. location. That was underscored by the July announcement to basically shutter Plant Hammond, which particularly has local school administrators concerned because of the expected economic hit.
But that’s not the case. If anything, Georgia Power’s local involvement seems to be escalating. The chamber. Economic development. Various boards. A $10,000 donation to the development authority that already is getting a minimum of $450,000 year in “start-up” funds from city and county governments (read: tax revenue).
Add to that facilitating what we consider to be a very critical city retreat as the community has some critical issues to solve. We urge you to watch a sudden concern about housing in town.
We just find this confluence if you will interesting — at least that’s the view from the outside. You have to wonder how elected and appointed leaders see it, let alone other local “corporate partners.”