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Growing jobs, investing in the community and trading squirrel pelts
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Dear Editor,
There is one thing you absolutely must have to build a community that prospers. Without it, there would be no jobs, no grocery stores and no healthcare. I’m talking about currency. Rice, tea leaves, beads, animal pelts or as we know it today, the almighty dollar. To put that under a broader umbrella, I am not just referring to the trading of currencies. I am also talking about growing jobs and investing in the community.

You have probably heard the aphorism that if you aren’t moving forward, you are moving backward. I couldn’t agree more with this simple statement and I think creating jobs is the quintessential first step of moving forward. More jobs mean more dollars being spent in our community. That in turn means companies see a thriving local economy and want to invest in our city, perhaps by opening a business. That creates more jobs, or growth. It is cyclical.

You might have just rolled your eyes when you read that I want new business to come to Covington. I often get asked if I think Covington is losing its ‘small town charm’ with all of these companies coming to town. Let me clarify; I’m not necessarily referring to a fast food restaurant or another gas station when I talk about wanting new business. Commerce comes in all shapes and sizes. Small business, commercial business, large industry, nonprofit organizations, civic organizations, home based business, churches and schools are just a few examples. The important thing is to have a blend in our community that can sustain our quality of life and offer jobs to everyone regardless of their expertise.

I am happy to report that jobs are coming to Covington. You have probably seen the new clothing store that recently opened or read about the hotel being built off of exit 93. You may not get excited about that hotel because you live here and don’t need a place to spend the night in your home town, but that hotel is going to employ 100 people during the construction phase and 35 people year round. That is something to get excited about. The clothing store that just opened created 50 jobs in our community and the opening of the Baxter plant is estimated to bring 1,400 jobs. The great news is there are more jobs of varying skill and educational levels on the way as businesses come to Covington.

Your local government is doing its part to foster an environment that promotes job growth. We offer smart incentives for businesses interested in expanding their operations in Covington. It’s also important to have leadership in positions that can cultivate leads that land prospects. Our community is blessed to Dave Bernd as Vice President of Economic Development and Serra Hall as the Director of Commercial Development. They have only been on the job a short period of time but have put Covington and Newton County on the forefront of state and international project coordination.

If you haven’t read between the lines yet, I want jobs in Covington. My goal is a zero unemployment rate. Some people may say I am being unrealistic, but I don’t let that influence me. Why not strive for the ultimate goal? I want everyone in the City of Covington that wants an opportunity to have a career and prosper to have that opportunity here. I want our children’s children to have the same opportunity. But one thing must be clear, the local government can only assist in opening the door of opportunity. You must decide you want to walk through the door. That might mean training or additional education. The door to employment is open in Covington. Are you ready to walk through it?
As usual, if you have any questions or feedback, I’d love to hear from you. Please send me a note at or give me a call at 770-262-1001.

Your Friend and Mayor,
Ronnie Johnston