There has been a great deal of discussion lately about economic development and, in particular, the funding of the Gainesville-Hall County Economic Development Council (EDC). The EDC’s function is a critical one as it represents public and private partners in efforts to attract new business and help existing business expand. The current partnership of public and private sectors has been very successful over the past nine years, and the majority of the partners are more than satisfied with the return on their investment.
The Hall County Commission has raised some questions about benchmarks and goals. The commission has been critical of the EDC and its development record over the past years. I agree that there should always be times that we stop, step back and review our successes and failures. However, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce does complete an audit each year and reports regularly to the partners of the Economic Development Council.
In my opinion, economic development is much more than just the work of a paid staff. All the partners play a role. These partners include elected officials, business leaders, educators and community volunteers. The EDC’s goal is to provide high paying jobs and an enhanced standard of living for all Hall County residents. If we are successful in growing our commercial, industrial, business tax base, then we have to prove that Hall County stands shoulder-to-shoulder in our endeavors. Together, as a team.
Another concern is losing sight of where we need to be in the future and just looking at shear numbers. For example, we have had opportunities to bring companies to Hall County and elected not to support the move. Reason being, those companies had low investment, low wages and needed a large number of employees. Secondarily, they would put a great strain on our infrastructure and natural resources, reduce the life of our landfill and return very little to the community. So we graciously say “no thanks.” This might not always help with numbers or statistics, but does mean that the Gainesville-Hall County Economic Development Council is working in the best interest of the community.
The future may bring change to the current structure of the Economic Development Council. This change may be for the good. However, if firm goals are set, and evaluations are done, then every player should receive a report card – not just the Economic Development Council staff.