Once upon a time, not too many years ago, area leaders were busy visiting cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee; Greensboro, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; and others, trying to figure out their secrets for revitalization. When we weren’t visiting them, we had them come here to spread their wisdom. What kind of magic did they have in that bottle? In Chattanooga, it was the aquarium and the ancillary parks and businesses that followed. In Greensboro, they turned a sleepy town of 74,000 in 1950 to a bustling hub of commerce filled with 144,000 people in 10 years. Today, it has grown to almost 300,000. Charleston began its rise from the ashes by rebuilding its past with the leadership of its mayor, Joe Riley Jr., who has served the city for 40 years.
We can look at projects, attractions and businesses, but it all begins with people. Now we look up and find that 11 new projects are being shepherded through the recruitment process at the Macon Economic Development Commission. Some are existing businesses looking to expand. Others are looking for a new home. All this in the past month.
This is good news, much better news than it would have been a decade ago. There was a time when company representatives would need to contact area recruiters before investigating an area. Those days are gone -- long gone. By the time the reps contact Pat Topping, vice president of the EDC, they know as much as they need to know. While these inquires are still in the earliest of stages, activity breeds activity, and Macon-Bibb County has a good record of capitalizing on opportunities. While Topping and the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority are in a “what have you done for me lately” kind of business, we shouldn’t forget their batting average. Kumho Tire, though it took a while, is just the latest success story. We don’t mind waiting on an almost half-billion dollar investment.
The leadership of the Industrial Authority is solid -- so solid, there were no nominations Monday for officers, meaning Cliffard Whitby will remain chairman and Robbie Fountain vice chair. All we can say is, keep it up. It’s time for other cities to ask for our secrets.
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