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Chamber gives quarterly report
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In the first quarter of 2008, the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce pursued leads on 19 development projects with a total known future investment of between $78 and $88 million.

On Tuesday John Boothby, president of the chamber, updated the Board of Commissioners on the chamber's progress in the first of what is to become a regular briefing.

Names of many of the prospective businesses and industries were not shared, as the leads generated with the statewide economic development department or with consultants.

"Not all of these projects will locate in Newton County," Boothby said. "Some will go elsewhere, some will be suspended for reasons known only to the prospects, some will change in scope, some will die and some will land here."

Among the businesses considering locating in Newton County is a $20 million project to build a 150,000 square foot building and bring 250 new jobs to the county. Another project, code-named "Project Jaguar" would come with a $20 million investment and 200 new employees. A local tech company is also looking at a new site in the county for a $10 million investment and 100 new jobs.

Other projects are already known including the recently announced $18 million FiberVisions plant expansion and the hotel/civic center.

Given the present state of the economy and the weak dollar, Boothby said the fact the chamber worked 19 project leads was impressive in itself.

"By any measurement, the first quarter of 2008 has been a resounding success," Boothby said.

Of those 19 projects, six have since been taken off the table and will not locate to Newton County.

"Newton County is making a comeback in the eyes of the statewide development community," Boothby said. "I'm very proud to say that the chamber's team is considered highly professional and competent by them."