County not renewing Chamber's contract

By Justin Reedy

The Clayton County government won't be renewing a contract in which the county Chamber of Commerce provided economic development and business recruitment services, a county official said.

In previous years, the Clayton County Board of Commissioners had a $150,000 annual contract with the Chamber calling for the business organization to work on recruiting businesses for the county. But last year, the county decided to end that agreement, relying instead on its own Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority to provide such services.

Losing that contract has taken a large chunk from the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce's annual budget, according to Chamber President Shane Moody. That's why Moody was surprised to hear county Commission Chairman Crandle Bray last week ask the Chamber to provide an endowment for the fledgling business school at Clayton College & State University in Morrow.

"Clayton State is one of the county's best resources," Bray said at the Chamber's monthly breakfast meeting at the college. "I think (the business school at CCSU) is a great opportunity for the chamber to put in an endowment to the college. You are the business community, and the business school ought to be one of the highest priorities for that community."

That was a shocking request, Moody said, considering how much the chamber already supports the school.

"The chamber supports this college to no end," Moody said. "We are always pushing their programs to industries in the county. We hold events here whenever we can because we like to promote the college to our members, and in most cases all the college has to do is pick up the phone and call us to get our help."

With the chamber's budget tighter in the last several months, Moody said it would be difficult for the business organization to give an endowment to the college.

"This is the first time I've heard about a possible endowment to the college," Moody said. "I would like to challenge the county to renew its economic development contract with the chamber that took $150,000 out of our annual budget, because that would begin to provide some of the economic means for us to do things like create an endowment for the business school."

But Bray said that the county won't be renewing its contract with the chamber, because of both budgetary constraints and difference of opinions regarding economic development and business recruitment.

"I loved our relationship with the chamber," Bray said. "(But) some of the things we prioritized were not being done, and they're being done now by the Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority."

Though the chamber has no plans for providing an endowment to the business school at CCSU, it plans on working with the college on the school in other ways, such as helping with getting the program accredited.

Cathy Gauder, the chairwoman of the chamber's board of directors, will be meeting soon with Bud Miller, the head of Clayton State's business school, and Bob Oliver, a member the Clayton State Foundation board of directors, to discuss the business school's accreditation efforts.