“I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.”
-- Marie Curie
Isn’t it funny how a bit of bad news makes you look around and notice the good news? The bad news came by way of a website called RoadSnacks.com that listed Macon as the No. 1 worst place to live in the U.S. This website is full of information people are dying to know such as “The 10 Snobbiest Places in Virginia” and “The 10 Mississippi (North Carolina, Iowa) Cities With The Most Ashley Madison Accounts.” To RoadSnacks’ credit, at the top of its “10 Worst Places To Live In America” list, it says: “This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.”
You guessed it, plenty of people around these parts freaked out. This is not to say Macon and the other cities -- or any city -- doesn’t have problems. RoadSnacks says the No. 1 city to live in is Alexandria, Virginia. Trouble is, the traffic is so bad you can’t get there from here, so there.
We have other qualities we’re right proud of -- a bustling and growing downtown, a plethora of colleges and universities -- and we are attracting and retaining businesses. Wednesday, Jim Frentheway, Kumho Tire’s human resources director for Georgia, said construction of the company’s first U.S. plant was on schedule to start production next year. The company plans to hire 300 production workers starting next month. The plant already employs 87 engineers, team leaders and maintenance personnel for the $424 million facility. And he gave a hint, by accident or on purpose, that the company’s research and development center, now in Akron, Ohio, could relocate to Macon.
While the Kumho news isn’t new (the plant has been in the works since 2008), it’s wonderful to see a plan finally come together. Less than 24 hours after Frentheway’s speech to the Downtown Rotary Club, Boeing was announcing it was going to transform its military facility here into a commercial manufacturing plant making body panels for 747-8 fuselages and spending $81.7 million in the process. Here’s the kicker. What would make one of the largest aircraft manufacturers decide to build such an important component for its premier airliner almost 3,000 miles away from where it’s assembled in Seattle? It comes down to something Boeing measures that RoadSnacks can’t: The efficiency of the plant and the expertise of the people of Middle Georgia.
Boeing, Kumho and others know that if a skill is needed, the technical college system will train workers quickly to fill the need. When it’s all said and done, data can only tell you so much. Pretty soon, you have to start talking to people, because it’s people who will eventually make bad data points disappear and good data points great.