Newton County has a strong international industrial base, with companies from France, Japan and South Korea, and the chamber is hoping to strengthen those ties by making international trips to Asia and Europe.
The move comes as Roger Harrison, senior vice president for economic development, has settled into his role. Chamber President Hunter Hall said recruiting internationally was always part of the plan, and because Harrison had success bringing domestic prospects to the county, the chamber was pushing forward with its goals.
Harrison will travel to Asia in October and visit the top two executives at the corporate headquarters of Bridgestone and Nisshinbo in Japan and SKC in South Korea.
The initial plane trip to China cost only $250 because it was a special deal through the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. Harrison will tag on trips to the other countries using a $1,000 scholarship from the Georgia Economic Developers Association as well as some money from the city's discretionary economic development budget in its general fund. He said it would be an economically-friendly trip.
"These large international corporations are heavily invested in our community. It is important for their leaders to know we are grateful for their business and that when they choose to expand, we would welcome those expansions in Covington/Newton County," Harrison said in a press release.
Harrison will be traveling with state officials to Germany in early 2012 to attend the Tire Technology Show to show support for local industry Tread Technologies, which is affiliated with the French-based Michelin corporation.
Domestically, a high-end metal fabrication company - which could bring 140 jobs - continues to look at Newton County as a finalist for a new location. The county is on the short list for two other industries as well.
The chamber is also planning to unveil its industry market analysis on Sept. 28. The $50,000 analysis is being developed by Garner Economics and has studied which industry sectors - such as food production - Newton County should most heavily recruit.
For example, the county has an abundance of water, which makes it appealing to food producers, like General Mills, which require copious amount of water. That industry sector may be more obvious, but the chamber will work with site selection analyst Jay Garner, to identify three to four other sectors. Plastics could be another example, given Newton County's strong presence in the sector, with Berry Plastics and Pactiv.
The analysis was bid out and the cost was divided evenly between the city, county, chamber and Industrial Development Authority.
Chamber promotes Carter to tourism assistant director
In other chamber news, Ron Carter has been promoted to assistant director of tourism and will coordinate tourism marketing and run the visitor's center.
Carter has with the chamber since 2006, serving as receptionist, membership director and information specialist. Tourism Director Clara Deemer said her office is working to make Covington a wedding destination and is also preparing for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, in addition to helping with numerous movie and TV projects.