It’s was almost two years ago when Greg Sumner, the incoming president of the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce told Rome business leaders that “jobs, job, jobs” would be his three priorities for the year.
The problem and the priorities for rectifying the problems are the same today as they were almost two years ago and 20 years ago — probably 200 years ago for that matter.
Three days ago the Georgia Department of Labor issued its monthly report indicating the Floyd County’s jobless rate went up six-tenths of a point to 11.3 percent for the month of July.
It was a trend mirrored across much of the Coosa Valley and unusually steep increases for the month of July.
Walker County was the lone exception among Floyd’s contiguous neighbors, dropping one-tenth of a point to 8.1 percent in July.
It brings the word that was used with the promotion of the ill-fated TSPLOST back to mind: regionalism.
What’s good for Bartow should be good for Floyd. What’s good for Floyd should be good for Chattooga and so on.
Job seekers are not particularly concerned about an imaginary line on a map that separates Floyd from Bartow, Gordon or Chattooga counties.
Megan Derham, a single mother from Calhoun, was in the Rome Department of Labor office this past week seeking help to find a new job. Because she’s a single mom, she really needs a full-time position and is looking for something in an office environment, clerical or customer service related.
She’s only been out of work a couple of weeks, last employed with a catering company that went out of business.
“I’m willing to drive 25 miles or so,” Derham said. “I would drive to Dalton or Cartersville, but I wouldn’t go as far as Chattanooga or Kennesaw.”
Political leaders like to crow, frequently loudly, about bringing jobs to their community. The reality is that big new employers in one county are just as likely to benefit out-of-work people in adjacent jurisdictions.
Lloyd Frasier, the interim director of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, said a new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy document for the 15-county Northwest Georgia Region would be unveiled Tuesday.
“This document will be used as a regional economic development road map,” Frasier said. “The core committee working on the CEDS is a very diverse group from government, private business to education, labor, and so we’re very fortunate to have a diverse group.”
The strategy will include a series of goals and objectives as well as a work program with specific elements that the region will be working toward.
“What we’re doing is trying to bring the focus more regionally,” Frasier said.
The Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse Regional Distribution Center in Shannon is a monolith that will provide jobs for the region in the very near future with as many as 600 jobs in a couple of years. Because of its location, many of those jobs are likely to be divided among Floyd, Bartow, Gordon and Chattooga counties.
Lowe’s is advertising for maintenance coaches and mechanics at the new regional distribution center in Rome.
“We are still several months away from significant numbers of hires related to employees who will actually run the operations of the distribution center,” said Karen Cobb, corporate communications for Lowe’s in North Carolina. “As jobs and positions open, people should regularly check www.lowes/careers and apply online there.”
The Mohawk expansion in Summerville, another 500-plus jobs, will be a boon for Chattooga County, but should also benefit Floyd, Walker, even neighbors Cherokee and DeKalb counties in Alabama.
The announcement of the new voestalpine Metal Forming plant Bartow County will create 200-plus jobs for Bartow, Gordon, Cherokee (in Georgia) and others.
The huge LakePoint Sporting Community and Town Center in Emerson, south of Cartersville, is expected to result in the creation of thousands of jobs. It is likely to draw employees from Atlanta and all across the Coosa Valley when it is built out during the next several years.
The first phase of that project, the Terminus Wake Park, one of the most highly anticipate wakeboards water parks east of the Mississippi River, closed on 20 acres of property Thursday and is expected to open in time for the summer of 2013.
Angie Lewis, president and CEO of Citizen’s First Bank in Rome and chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce, said that a market Street Services survey
being done for an update of the Rome-Floyd 20/20 plan indicates approximately 45 percent — that’s not a typo — of the working residents of Floyd County actually work outside the county.
“Just like our employment base here in Rome draws from other counties as well, so success of other counties around us is very important to the job market for Floyd County residents,” Lewis said.
The new Charles Hight Square shopping center will create something in the range of 200 jobs.
The point is, officials say, help is on the way all across the region.
Details of new plans for the Village Shopping Center on Turner McCall Boulevard may become available soon, and if the anticipated project does not fall apart for some reason, it would involve a significant number of jobs.
Not all of the positions being created in Rome and adjacent communities are all high-tech, high-payroll jobs, but they are jobs. If you talk to almost anyone waiting for help at the Georgia Department of Labor Career Center, 462 Riverside Parkway, they’re not being as choosy as some might imagine.
A job is a job. It helps pay for milk, bread, an occasional dinner out, even a movie or Rome Braves baseball game — if you can afford the gas.