I have recently found myself thinking about these questions: "Can one person really have an impact on our local economy? Can one person's vision, ideas, influence and labor really change the direction of a whole community or does our future and economy just happen to us?"
A lot of stories and discussions have been had around the coffee cup this week following the news about Baxter International landing at Stanton Springs. I wanted to share a few stories that you might or might not know, but they highlight the power of one.
I was not around to see Davis Morgan work, but the stories I hear are impressive. It has been told to me that Stanton Springs was his idea and that he went to each of the counties to cast the vision and align support. He went so far as to load everyone up in a tour bus and drive around the state looking at industrial parks, specifically Johns Creek, the park Stanton Springs is now modeled after and that has the same development company, Technology Park Atlanta Realty Services. What a visionary. The power of one.
On June 6, 2008, Scott Willis and Shannon Davis traveled to Atlanta to meet with a half dozen project managers at the State Economic Development Office. In tow they had several foam boards depicting the Stanton Springs master plan and a huge vision. Willis' vision was that Newton County could be the new "Silicon Valley" for medical research due to our location between Augusta, the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Mercer. The last person they met with that day was Cornelius Bankston, a project manager who a few weeks later would send the Baxter deal to us under the code name of "Project Boss." That is how Baxter got to Newton County. One person with a vision for our future. The power of two.
Back in June 2008, Shannon was a one-woman show regarding economic recruitment and working with our existing industry. The confidential community visits for Baxter started in 2009, and Davis handled communication, paperwork, rapid response, coordination of utility providers, elected officials, maps and whatever else needed to be done.
The project went silent for about a year and half as they worked through the down economy. Then in December 2011, we received the call that the project was alive again. Shannon stayed on point and did a masterful job at showing our community assets, coordinating all the meetings, interfacing with the State Economic Development Office, courting the executives and maintaining strict confidentiality. One person who lead the charge on behalf of our community. The power of three.
And let's not forget about the board of commissioners that years ago approved the funding of Stanton Springs. I'm sure there were a hundred reasons why they could have voted no on that bond issuance. Five individuals with one vote that set our community on a road to a very promising future. The power of eight.
The power of one, then two, then three. Let's keep building on the momentum, one person at a time.
Hunter Hall is the President of the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce.