Bartow County, city of Cartersville and the city of Emerson were represented with participants in the Region 1 multi-day training program, which introduced students to the basics of economic and community development.
Local graduates from the 2013 academy were Bartow County Environmental Programs Division Head Sheri Henshaw, city of Cartersville Downtown Development Authority Manager Tara Currier, city of Cartersville Assistant City Manager Dan Porta and city of Emerson Assistant City Manager Todd Heath.
“One of the goals for the multi-day regional academies is to encourage multi-county cooperation,” said Corinne Thornton, director of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, in a press release. “Many times, the participants discover the issues facing their community are the same as those facing other communities in their region and can then combine limited resources to address the issue.”
The Region 1 academy took place in Rome at the Forum and was comprised of representatives from 12 northwest Georgia counties. Participants included elected officials, public servants, business leaders, educators and social service providers.
“Really, it just opened my eyes to the economic development process and how huge organizations go through the site selection process and what they consider to be the product — what the community offers, whether it’s a nice industrial park or good school systems or parks and rec. — and Bartow County has it all really,” Heath said. “So it was largely about how to market that product the community has to offer and basically how to assist in getting better companies and businesses to locate to the area.
“I think, in general, the course taught from the government standpoint, how to raise the water for everyone in the community and not just this particular area, but trying to help the entire region.”
For Heath, helping manage the city of Emerson and dealing with the challenges of an aging infrastructure during lean economic times, a program segment guiding participants through the channels and avenues for financial assistance was one of the most impactful sessions.
“It was actually a very involved course,” Heath said. “We went over tons of resources. Resources for private business, government, grants, sources for getting grant funds, organizations that offer loan programs — a lot of financial resources.
“We also worked on intergovernmental relationships and how not only municipalities can work with counties, but also with the school board or transportation authorities or federal agencies, such as Corps of Engineers or with CSX, basically to develop a better environment for the entire community.”
Meeting one day a month beginning in February, the 2013 Georgia Academy for Economic Development covered other areas of importance to economic developers, including tourism product development, quality planning, downtown development, business recruitment, redevelopment and leadership skills.
Heath for one feels the course will help with attracting, landing and retaining new businesses and customers for the city of Emerson, including those associated with LakePoint Sporting Community & Town Center.
The next Region 1 Georgia Academy for Economic Development will begin in February 2014. For more information, contact Leamon Scott at 706-621-2585 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.