Looking back and forward: Economic development in Floyd County
It is no secret that Rome Floyd County is truly a remarkable place to live, work and play. Broad Street is the representative main street for the State of Georgia and few small towns can boast of the diverse healthcare services, education opportunities and job opportunities that exist in Rome and Floyd County.
Looking back on 2022, local real estate received global attention (i.e., the iconic Creel House from Stranger Things Season 4), countless housing units are in some stage of development, new restaurants and businesses are constantly opening and historic investment announcements (i.e., the $5 billion Hyundai and SK ON EV Plant) have been made that will shape our area for years to come.
A migration report from MoveBuddha, an online expert of relocation research and data, named Rome and Floyd County, Georgia the top community in the State of Georgia for inflow in 2022. People and companies alike want to live and move here, and local economic development professionals dedicate a significant amount of their time marketing Rome and Floyd County to Georgia Department of Economic Development officials, utility providers, prospective employers, site consultants, and international companies looking for a new place to call “home.”
Capital investment and job creation, grant funding, land acquisition and construction progress are some of the many categories to be highlighted when looking back on 2022.
2022 in review
Over the course of 2022, the Rome Floyd County Development Authority received 91 project leads, recorded $65,935,360 in capital investment and 219 jobs. These numbers scratch the surface of total economic development activity in our area as shown by redevelopment projects, housing developments, healthcare mergers and newly opened and growing businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Economic development representatives of the Rome Floyd County Development Authority, Development Authority of Floyd County and the Gordon — Floyd Joint Development Authority have remained busy working to meet demand for industrial development by acquiring and preparing land and obtaining grant funding to spur new opportunities.
Last year, the RFCDA participated in competitive application processes to secure $5.71 million in grant funds from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and Congressionally Directed Spending supported by the Offices of Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
These funds will be used for a variety of purposes including the environmental remediation and redevelopment of the Battey Business Complex (former Northwest Regional Hospital Property) and planning for infrastructure improvements along U.S. 411.
When asked about the biggest accomplishment for economic development in 2022, Jimmy Byars, chairman of the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority said, “the acquisition of property for economic development, especially the former Braden Farm and the Former Northwest Regional Hospital Property.”
The former Braden Farm property, now called Enterprise Corner, is only 8 miles from the site in Bartow County that Hyundai and SK On have selected for a $4-5 billion electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility.
One of the largest investment announcements in the State of Georgia’s history, stakeholders estimate that this operation will create more than 3,500 jobs and the potential ripple effect of this development will change the way that everyone thinks of the Bartow — Floyd connector.
Regarding construction progress, three new buildings were completed along Ga. 53 totaling nearly 1,000,000 square feet. One of the buildings is home to The Hillman Group (a supplier of Lowe’s and Home Depot) and the other two buildings were constructed by ARCO Design Build and Plymouth REIT and are currently being marketed to prospective industrial employers.
Ryan Earnest, chairman of the Development Authority of Floyd County, looks forward to 2023 and “the continued work and collaboration between the development agencies to create economic opportunities that will continue to propel Rome and Floyd County into more relevance and prominence within our region.”
The role of the Rome City and Floyd County Commissions is critical when considering the influence they have on the success of economic development recruiting efforts. When asked about the role of the Rome City Commission.
Rome City Manager Sammy Rich said, “the key role of the commission is that we are all in this together with the joint development authorities. The City and County jointly fund economic development which really shows everyone’s support. The infrastructure side, with water and sewer and having a pro-growth political posture by being open to housing and future development are also critical.”
Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord said the role of the Floyd County Commission is to “support recruiting efforts, provide a working funding model like we currently have, and support incentives and other tools used for recruitment.”
Infrastructure key in 2023
A company’s decision to locate in a community is affected largely by the availability and capacity of utilities such as water, sewer, power and gas. Infrastructure improvements along U.S. 411 are critical to better position and prepare Rome and Floyd County for projected residential and industrial growth.
“We have ample infrastructure, what we must do is make the infrastructure more accessible, specifically regarding water and sewer serving Enterprise Corner. Extending infrastructure to that site will transform the way we think of the entire 411 corridor,” Rich said.
Key outcomes of the 2023 Economic Development Strategic Planning Session included the importance of focusing on transportation and infrastructure improvements and how we as a community can best prepare for and accommodate the continuously increasing demand of people and companies wanting to move here.
Rome and Floyd County is quickly earning the reputation as a vibrant, growing area with a unique sense of “place” but what people may not realize is the amount of communication, teamwork, and collaboration that it takes to make it that way. Economic development success in 2022 merely scratches the surface of what opportunities are on the horizon for Rome and Floyd County.
People and businesses want what Rome and Floyd County have and the degree and success to which everyone works together as a team is what will determine our future success and competitive position.