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Job creation discussed at local forum
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For more information on the White House Jobs and Economic Growth Forum, go to:

 About two dozen Rockdale residents gathered Tuesday night at the J.P. Carr center to discuss the tricky subject of creating jobs during a forum organized as a local extension of the White House’s jobs forum held earlier this month.

 The event, moderated and organized by former county chief of staff R.J. Hadley, was opened with remarks from the heads of the local Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties of Rockdale. Residents questioned why more of the business community, such as the Chamber of Commerce, had not been notified of the event. Hadley said he depended on each of the local parties to contact their members to spread the word along with local media outlets but that the notes and ideas from the forum could be submitted to the business community as well.

 After watching a brief video clip of discussion that went on during the White House Jobs forum, attendees broke into two groups to address a set of six questions.

 In one group, participants discussed role that churches could play in networking, re-training out of work attendees. Some pointed out that networking is not as helpful if there are no jobs to be had.

 Gary Holder said in his experience strict government regulations discouraged him as a former small business owner from hiring more people because it was such a hassle.

Elaine Davis-Nickens said her family’s small business never had that problem, since they were known in the community as a resource for help.

Chance said Rockdale’s natural resources, such as its water, provided economic opportunities.

Many of the participants agreed higher education institutions were key to the county’s economic viability. "We blew it with Perimeter College," said Charles Chance, who emphasized that the county needed to concentrate on attracting a good university.

Suggestions and notes from the forum will be submitted to the White House as well as to the Rockdale County legislative delegation and the Board of Commissioners, said Hadley.

Several residents expressed a desire to see local experts and leaders invited as well. Resident Diana Davis said trying to brainstorm with other lay people on ideas to create jobs was like being asked how to improve open heart surgery.

The local party leaders and attending residents also discussed possibly holding another jobs forum in the next two months, separate from the White House effort, as a continuation Tuesday’s discussion.