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Posted: May 2, 2013 6:57 p.m.

Development

There’s no question we’ve had a successful run of economic development deals in Newton County over the past couple of years.

The Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce’s Office of Economic Development and its former recruiter Roger Harrison, have proven you have to — and we can — compete against the big boys to bring new business to Newton County.

Playing at that level isn’t cheap, and if we are going to continue to be competitive, it’s going to continue to cost us a sizable chunk of local tax money.

Harrison, who recently left the chamber to join a private enterprise expanding in South Carolina, left behind an excellent track record.

Filling his shoes is Courtney Bernardi, who comes to Covington from Jackson County, where she and the county landed their fair share of big deals, too. In addition to her good track record, officials believe she has the ability to take us to the next level.

Newton County’s future growth could be determined in large part by private developers, who could buy the land and build the speculative buildings needed to attract industry, while housing developers could complement that growth by building housing to attract the employees and executives.

Unfortunately, because of the shortage of quality housing available right now, we’re hearing that many families in the first wave of Baxter International’s expansion are finding homes in surrounding counties instead.

Local banks need to step back up to the plate and do their part to make it possible for developers to create the inventory we need to attract the citizens we want.

In another unfortunate circumstance, we’re losing an excellent school superintendent, Gary Mathews, who in three years has turned a struggling school system around and placed it in a position to see more positive growth in the future.

We need that kind of remarkable improvement to continue and it’s imperative our next superintendent continue the trend.

Yes, we have big challenges here in Newton County, but the addition of leaders like Courtney Bernardi shows people believe in what this community is building.

We hope that by working together, and laying down the differences that may exist between us, we all can continue to transform our community into an example of what’s possible.

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