Water, water everywhere -- at least in Bibb County.
It’s a message that the Macon Water Authority and the Macon Economic Development Commission have been putting out as a lure for companies interested in relocating here.
The MWA kicked that effort up a notch by contracting with former Macon Mayor George Israel to serve as a point man to find potential companies to bring in, with the prospect of a top-notch water and sewer system already in place.
“When George develops a lead, the MEDC will help recruit that lead,” said Pat Topping, the commission’s senior vice president. “We can attract a company to Macon by taking advantage of our great water system.”
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Israel, who served as chairman and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce from 2001 until his retirement in 2010, brings with him business and political contacts from all over the state, said Frank Amerson, chairman of the MWA.
“He’s got a world of state contacts,” Amerson said. “That’s his job -- to locate people who need guaranteed water. We’re the only place in Middle Georgia that has guaranteed water.”
Israel said he was talking about the plan with Amerson for the past six months before formally starting with the MWA on Aug. 1. He’s first developing a marketing plan for the authority to make sure it’s on everyone’s radar.
“We’ll first develop a marketing plan that will include direct mail and an e-newsletter,” said Israel, who served as mayor from 1979-87. “We want to get the message out that we have plenty of water.
“If you look at the drought across Georgia, there’s not enough water. But in the (Javors) Lucas Lake Reservoir, we have 5.9 billion gallons. ... We try to make sure (to reach) project managers and site-selection consultants.”
Before his conversations with Amerson, Israel said he never gave the issue too much thought.
“I was probably like a lot of people -- I’d just turn the water on,” he said. “I never stopped to think where it came from.”
Since then, he’s seen the MWA water treatment and sewage treatment facilities firsthand.
“If you look at the wastewater treatment, it’s amazing what they do,” Israel said.
Israel said he believes the consolidation of the city and county will make Macon even more attractive.
“We’re interested in bringing in jobs,” he said. “Generally speaking, we want to get on the checklists or matrix (the prospect) is using. We want to let them know that water is available. This will help us get in and talk to them. ... Consolidation will give us another reason to talk to folks. It will improve industrial/governmental relations. When you have one licensing authority, one zoning authority -- a one-stop shop (for businesses) -- it will be an improvement.”
Topping said once Israel brings in prospects, the MEDC will pick up the baton and work to bring the business to Bibb County.
“Water is becoming a critical, critical issue right now,” Topping said. “It’s very fortunate that we have one of the best water systems in the country. This will be another opportunity to market it.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.