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Chamber offers development forum
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Covington and Newton County officials want to attract high-quality jobs. So does nearly every other community in the U.S.


The Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce is hosting an economic development forum from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday at DeKalb Technical College, 8100 Bobby Williams Parkway, Covington, to educate elected officials, government employees and community leaders about how communities successfully recruit new industry.

"Basically, when the city and county funded our (economic development leader position) , what does that money go toward? Does it go to somebody who is just taking someone out to dinner? No, not at all. It's much more than that," said Chamber President Hunter Hall.

"Recruiting industry is a team effort. It takes everybody, the city, county, water authority. Everybody weighs in and participates in the process," Hall said. "It's very important that everyone who has to participate in economic development understands the process and how things work from the state level, to the site selection level to our level."

The forum is titled "Are we on the same page?: Aligning all stakeholders for successful industrial recruitment," and the featured speaker will be Jay Garner, president of Garner Economics, an economic development consulting firm.
Hall said one aspect of the forum will be how to cultivate a positive public image.

"PR is incredibly important to economic development strategies. We're not opposed to having disagreements, but elected officials and others need to understand that those adversely affect our attractiveness to industry," Hall said.

The chamber is moving forward with its recruitment efforts now that Roger Harrison, vice president of economic development, has had a chance to become acquainted with the county. Harrison was hired in late

February to be the community's top recruiter of industry.
Because the full bodies of the Covington City Council and

Newton County Board of Commissioners have been invited, the meeting is open to the public, but there will be no public participation.