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Chamber exec put on college board
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A local economic development specialist was selected to sit on the board of directors of the Georgia Piedmont Foundation, a move that fits into the technical college’s greater inclusion of Newton County.

 Roger Harrison, senior vice president for economic development at the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, was named to the Georgia Piedmont Technical College Foundation, a move Harrison said indicated the a shift in the focus of the school, formerly DeKalb Technical College.

 “With the name shift, it helps include the campuses like Newton and Rockdale, and it helps us feel like one system, one college, as opposed to the DeKalb campus with a Covington satellite,” Harrison said. “It’s part of the inclusiveness they’re promoting at the main campus level.”

 The Foundation is a nonprofit organization that raises money to support Georgia Piedmont Technical College, according to a statement released by the school.

 The Newton campus currently has about 1,000 degree-seeking students, which is a quarter of the technical college’s total enrollment. Georgia Piedmont has two campuses, in Clarkston and Covington, and learning centers in Conyers, Lithonia and Madison.

 “We want to have representation from Newton County specifically because it is one of the larger areas we serve,” said Cory Thompson, public relations director for Georgia Piedmont. “We want to have a larger representation on the board of directors and on the advisory council so we know what’s important in that community to help shape curriculum we offer.”

 Harrison said Georgia Piedmont is critical to the development and growth of Newton County, particularly in workforce training. “We’re aware of some of our gaps in skills and we at the Chamber working constantly to remedy this,” he said. “It’s one more piece to make sure we have a place at the table at our technical college.”

 The state and federal governments offer grants to unemployed people who want to get training in certain skilled industrial fields. Georgia also offers incentives to companies moving to an area to hire new employees locally and train them in a technical college.

 Harrison will sit on two committees:  donor relations and board relations.

“GPTC is such a critical partner to the future success of Newton County, and truly our whole region,” Hunter Hall, president of the chamber. “Their assistance in workforce development, Georgia's QuickStart job training program, and all the continuing education opportunities in our community makes this relationship vitally important. Roger will be a great addition to their board and will certainly represent our community well.”

 Three others from Newton County sit on the Foundation’s board of directors: Hillary W. Edgar, Edward Bates and Reed Beard.

 Harrison previously served the State of Georgia as a public service faculty member at the University of Georgia’s Archway Partnership, an economic development program designed to improve rural communities in Georgia. He also gives his time to The Blue Ridge Institute, the Membership Services Committee for the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the Georgia 4-H Advisory Board, Youth Leadership Newton County, and the Arts Association in Newton County.

 Prior to his public service, Harrison was with The Coca-Cola Company, where he managed the company’s relationship with, and sponsorship of, the outdoor-entertainment industry.