Leaders of the 15-county Northwest Georgia region adopted a new long-range Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) during a Northwest Georgia Regional Commission session in Calhoun Thursday. The plan provides a blueprint for economic growth through the year 2022.
The regional commission has offices in Dalton and Rome, which Jim Henry, Chattooga County, chairman of the economic development strategy committee, said illustrates the difficulty in putting together a package for the entire region. “Dalton and Rome have completely different economic bases,” Henry said. Dalton is the home of the floor covering industry while Rome’s economy is more diverse and dependant on health care, education and manufacturing.
The 15-county region includes Dade, Catoosa, Walker, Whitfield, Murray, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Gordon, Chattooga, Floyd, Bartow, Polk, Paulding and Haralson counties.
In terms of community assets, the plan calls for increasing emphasis on tourism with particular emphasis on the burgeoning film and television industry in Georgia. The strategy to support tourism initiatives would focus on educating the public on the positive impact tourism brings to the region, increase funding for tourism, and encouraging collaborative marketing among the various communities and tourism destinations to attract greater visitation.
“There’s always room for groups to work together with a single purpose in mind,” said Lisa Smith, director of the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau. “There are not a lot of leads that come to us directly unless they are indies that don’t go through the Georgia Film office.” Smith also said there’s no question that additional staffing is needed to work on behalf of seeking films and developing leads.
The plan also seeks to promote quality of life amenities across the region to retain future generations. The document makes note of the fact that millennials bring a new lust to live, work, and play in downtown areas that focuses on connectivity and quality of life issues that needs to be understood and addressed communities across the region.
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