Get­ting down to busi­ness

The Covington News - - Front page -

I can’t be­lieve I only have one more class day with Lead­er­ship New­ton County. Th­ese past few months have re­ally flown by, but ev­ery class day I get to slow down a bit and study a facet of our com­mu­nity that few can de­vote five min­utes to, let alone an eight-hour day.

Last Thurs­day our class again em­barked on a jour­ney to At­lanta. It was a dreary day, but spir­its were high. We be­gan our eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment class day at Ge­or­gia Power’s Ge­or­gia Re­source Cen­ter. I’ll be hon­est — I didn’t even know this place ex­isted.

The GRC works with var­i­ous state agen­cies such as the Ge­or­gia Cham­ber of Com­merce to at­tract in­dus­try and busi­nesses to the state. We role-played as if we were an in­dus­try that po­ten­tially wanted to lo­cate in Ge­or­gia in or­der to wit­ness how the GRC’s state-of the-art tech­nol­ogy can lo­cate ex­ist­ing build­ings and tracts of land that would suit the in­ter­ested com­pany. The GRC rep­re­sen­ta­tives, of course, tai­lored the search so that the in­dus­try’s query would be nar­rowed to Stan­ton Springs In­dus­trial Park.

Once a search is nar­rowed, the GRC puts the com­pany in con­tact with lo­cal gov­ern­ments and cham­bers of com­merce — peo­ple like my LNC class­mate Shan­non Davis, who works in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment for the Cov­ing­ton-New­ton County Cham­ber of Com­merce.

I was amazed at the amount and ac­cu­racy of in­for­ma­tion this data­base stores. How in­dus­tries de­ter­mined where they wanted to lo­cate be­fore the In­ter­net and tech­nol­ogy al­lowed them to have this in­for­ma­tion at the click of a mouse — I don’t know. GRC tech­nol­ogy spe­cial­ists could even show a po­ten­tial in­dus­try what a cer­tain square footage build­ing would look like on a par­tic­u­lar plot of land. I was mes­mer­ized.

We then went up a few floors in the Ge­or­gia Power build­ing and spoke with a Snap­ping Shoals EMC re­tail de­vel­op­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive about in­for­ma­tional re­sources that com­pany of­fers to re­tain busi­nesses who want to lo­cate or ex­pand in Ge­or­gia. We dis­cussed de­mo­graphic statis­tics that com­pa­nies look for when re­lo­cat­ing or ex­pand­ing. I learned that the av­er­age age in the North Ge­or­gia Moun­tains is much older than New­ton’s av­er­age age of 34.5 and that it’s much younger in coun­ties with mil­i­tary bases. I never con­sid­ered th­ese fac­tors as some­thing a busi­ness would con­sider when looking to re­lo­cate or ex­pand.

The most in­ter­est­ing por­tion of the Snap­ping Shoals pre­sen­ta­tion was the dis­cus­sion of cur­rent re­tail trends on the rise. Any­body know what a slow bev­er­age is? I didn’t ei­ther un­til this dis­cus­sion. Think about fast bev­er­ages as Red Bulls or Mon­ster En­ergy Drinks. Some com­pa­nies are re­search­ing how to mar­ket slow bev­er­ages — no not beer or wine — but drinks con­tain­ing mela­tonin and other re­lax­ing agents for a com­muter’s drive home in­stead of their drive to work.

Af­ter lunch pro­vided by Snap­ping Shoals, we hopped back on our yel­low school bus and headed home to C.R. Bard. For more than 40 years in Cov­ing­ton, Bard has been man­u­fac­tur­ing and for­mu­lat­ing mod­ern med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy that im­proves a pa­tient’s qual­ity of life. The com­pany changed medicine with the per­fec­tion of the Fo­ley Catheter and has cre­ated nu­mer­ous other prod­ucts such as chemo­ther­apy ports to her­nia patches.

Em­ploy­ees in­tro­duced us to some of Bard’s more pop­u­lar prod­ucts. I didn’t even know there was a mar­ket for most of them — no a tram­po­line is not just for jump­ing, some­times it’s for con­tain­ing. While I re­ally hope that none of Bard’s prod­ucts are ever needed for my body, I’m glad they ex­ist and are made in my home town.

Our class was then gra­ciously given a tour of Cov­ing­ton’s ster­il­iza­tion fa­cil­ity. It’s mas­sive and op­er­a­tional 24/7, ex­cept for maybe a few days at the end of the year. Our tour guide told us the ma­chines like to run.

In­dus­tries like C.R. Bard are not only large em­ploy­ers for our com­mu­nity, but also they are com­mu­nity part­ners in ed­u­ca­tion and fundrais­ing ef­forts for area non-prof­its. My hope is that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of LNC classes will have dozens more lo­cal in­dus­tries to choose from to visit on eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment day.

My next LNC class day in­volves pub­lic safety. For our home­work as­sign­ments we have to go on a ride along with the po­lice, fire or sher­iff depart­ment. I chose Cov­ing­ton Fire be­cause they are go­ing to put me through hell — lit­er­ally. My next col­umn will likely be the most in­ter­est­ing of them all, so stay tuned to see how I did on the 100-foot lad­der and in­side the burn house.

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