I am honored to have been elected by the citizens of Baldwin County and Milledgeville. It was recently my privilege to attend four days of required state training for new county commissioners in Athens. The training was extremely well presented by the Carl Vinson Institute and the Association of County Commissioners at the University of Georgia. It was a unique opportunity to participate in such a quality learning event with our county’s two other new commissioners, Tommy French and Johnny Westmoreland. We know we will work well together.
Participating in new commissioner training with over 220 other new commissioners was very informative and enlightening in many ways. Perhaps the most important result was the opportunity to exchange views and ideas with commissioners and state experts from all parts of Georgia. Our community issues are not totally unique. It was engaging to hear how other communities deal with issues similar to ours.
I was startled to have it so plainly stated that every county and city in our state has one common goal. Everybody’s top priority is new businesses and jobs. It is likely the same goal in every community across the country. Our country’s economic challenges have affected all. It was made perfectly clear, communities that worked together and focused their time, energy, and resources towards common goals are recovering and surviving best.
There were many presentations and discussions about the best community characteristics to attract significant/real businesses and jobs. I was listening for specific keys to attract businesses with careers and benefits for our children and grandchildren. I was assuming development authorities, unified governments, chamber of commerce, tax benefits, and many more would be the most important influences. I was surprised to hear the overwhelming repeated comment, the number No. 1 consideration is the condition of public education in the community. When I looked at the maps of the counties in our state with new significant business growth, that common thread of high education achievement existed; Caterpillar to Clarke County; Baxter International to the Morgan/Walton/Newton counties; and several businesses in Columbia County.