Effective Leadership is key to community and economic development

What an honor it is to be a part of Business Link. As I sat down to write this article, I thought back on my time in Gainesville with many fond memories. I had the pleasure of working for Georgia Power in Hall County during the ‘80s and again in the ‘90s, and I treasure the friendships and business relationships forged during those times. I also believe that much of the experience I gained while in your community helped prepare me for the statewide role in economic development that I now am privileged to have.

For more than 75 years, Georgia Power has been working to ensure economic growth and prosperity throughout the state. Many people do not realize that Georgia Power is the oldest statewide developer in Georgia. Preston Arkwright Sr., Georgia Power’s first president, was a visionary leader who foresaw the state’s tremendous potential. He opened an office in 1927 in New York City to recruit industry to Georgia, and in the eight decades since, Georgia Power has maintained this focus.

Even back in the early days of economic development, it was obvious that local leadership could “make or break” a community. For this reason, Georgia Power has always placed a major emphasis on community development and leadership training. Leaders must have a vision of what they want their community to become, and then they must develop a strategy for achieving that vision.

Implementing the strategy – in order to one day reap the rewards – always requires people working together. State and local governments must work together, along with elected officials, chambers of commerce and industrial development authorities. Owners and leaders from existing businesses must be involved, as well as representatives from academia. The result is a unified voice for the community, with clear objectives and effective cooperation.

Throughout the years, public/private partnerships have been a hallmark of Georgia’s success in economic development. Prospects considering Georgia have remarked quite often on how “together” the Georgia team is, both at the state and local levels. Site location consultants will tell you that they refuse to take a prospect to a community where the spirit of cooperation and teamwork does not exist, so working together is critical to successful, well-planned economic development.

Today, Georgia Power is a major partner of the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism, the official business recruitment arm of the state, as well as the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Other state partners include the Department of Labor, the Department of Technical and Adult Education, the Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Division, and there are literally hundreds of local partners across the state.

Over the past decade, Hall County has been one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States. You have enjoyed a healthy mix of manufacturing and services industries made up of both domestic and international companies, and unemployment has remained lower than the national average. The rate of homeownership is high in Hall County and the average median household income is strong. You have excellent recreational and cultural amenities, as well as opportunities for higher education. Gainesville and Hall County have enjoyed balanced economic growth, and have done a great job of making life better for its citizens. Our collective challenge is to continue to work together so that our children will have a great place to live, work and play.

Throughout our company’s history, Georgia Power has been committed to the prosperity of the state. We are proud of communities such as Hall County, and we salute you for helping make Georgia the great state that it is today. May prosperity and success continue in the months and years to come!