2 boards to dis­cuss in­dus­try re­cruiter

♦ Com­mis­sion Chair Rhonda Wal­lace says she hopes they leave to­day’s meet­ing ‘on the same page.’

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Diane Wag­ner DWag­[email protected]

The Rome City and Floyd County com­mis­sions will hold a rare joint ses­sion this morn­ing, to dis­cuss a pro­posed change to how the gov­ern­ments lure new jobs and in­dus­tries.

County Com­mis­sion Chair Rhonda Wal­lace said Mon­day it’s a chance to an­swer ques­tions some city com­mis­sion­ers have raised about the new model. A study com­mit­tee of city, county and Rome Floyd Cham­ber rep­re­sen­ta­tives rec­om­mended a joint au­thor­ity headed by a pro­fes­sional re­cruiter.

“This is to clar­ify the plan, so we’ll all be on the same page,” Wal­lace said. “It’s more for us to just meet, one-on-one; to see each other and talk about unity.”

The pub­lic meet­ing is set for 8 a.m. to­day in the Rome Floyd Fire Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, 409 E. 12th St.

County com­mis­sion­ers unan­i­mously ap­proved the plan at their Nov. 13 meet­ing, fol­low­ing a meet­ing ear­lier that day with city and cham­ber of­fi­cials. How­ever, city com­mis­sion­ers asked for more in­for­ma­tion be­fore vot­ing.

Rome Com­mis­sioner Wendy Davis sub­mit­ted 50 ques­tions, rang­ing from the pow­ers of the new au­thor­ity and fund­ing to the in­volve­ment of the cham­ber, schools and ex­ist­ing in­dus­tries.

She — and later, res­i­dent Thom Holt — also ques­tioned sim­i­lar­i­ties to a pre­vi­ous model in the 1990s that pro­duced few re­sults and raised ques­tions of con­flicts of in­ter­est.

Rome Com­mis­sioner Bill Irm­scher sub­mit­ted seven ques­tions in writ­ing, mainly about the or­ga­ni­za­tion and mis­sion state­ment. City Man­ager Sammy Rich an­swered many at the board’s Nov. 26 meet­ing but a ma­jor­ity of the com­mis­sion sought fur­ther de­tails.

How­ever, most of them in­di­cated sup­port for a new di­rec­tion.

“I am very much in fa­vor of tak­ing a new stance in the bat­ter’s box,” Irm­scher wrote. “We need to be pos­i­tive and make in­dus­try want Rome as their home.”

Wal­lace said Mon­day there have been in­for­mal talks about a pro­fes­sional re­cruiter for more than a year, to pro­vide more ac­count­abil­ity. She noted that Rome Com­mis­sioner Craig McDaniel, who served on the study com­mit­tee, has more than 30 years ex­pe­ri­ence in eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

“For some­body with that level of ex­pe­ri­ence to rec­om­mend this, I feel we should lis­ten,” Wal­lace said. “We haven’t re­ally got­ten any (in­dus­try) close to the ta­ble for a while and we owe it to the tax­pay­ers to try some­thing dif­fer­ent.”

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