Photo by Heather Middleton
By Maria-Jose Subiria
Several community leaders in Clayton County recently graduated from the "2010 Region Three Multi-Day Training Program" of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development.
The academy was created by the development council of former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, in 1993, to gather together economic development professionals and resources for training in all "twelve service delivery regions" in the state, explained Cynthia Easley, development specialist for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Region 3.
"One of the goals for the multi-day regional academies is to encourage multi-county cooperation," added Saralyn Stafford, executive director of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development. "Many times, the participants discover the issues facing their community are the same as those facing other communities in their region, and can, then, combine limited resources to address the issues."
The participants represented a variety of professional and non-professional economic development fields, including public servants, elected officials, business leaders, educators and social service providers, said Easley.
The Clayton County graduates include: Clayton Archway officials Gail Webb, Sue Chapman and Angel Jackson; as well as, Tommy Green, III, council member in the City of Lovejoy; and Larry Vincent, a board member of the Clayton County Development Authority, said Easley.
Green said he was approached by the Department of Community Affairs to participate in the program, and he gladly accepted.
He said he thought it was beneficial to participate, because it complimented his job description with the City of Lovejoy. "There is such a heavy emphasis on incentives [to encourage development]," said Green, of what he learned in the program. "For me, it was a double-edged piece ... to understand it."
Gail Webb, of the Clayton Archway Program, said she enjoyed the academy, because it provided her with useful information, and a foundation for approaching, and working toward, economic development.
According to Webb, the program was useful for her line of work, since Clayton Archway aspires to enhance the connection between the University of Georgia, and the Clayton County community, to address the critical needs that must be met for successful economic development.
"I think you [Clayton County] got an economic development department that is innovative, forward-thinking and progressive," said Webb.
Cynthia Easley, of the Department of Community Affairs, added that the program gave graduates an opportunity to gain understanding of economic development on the local, regional and state levels, which is a complicated topic.
It was taught one day a month for four months, which included the basics of economic-and-community development, specialized segments of business recruitment and retention, tourism-product development, downtown development, quality planning, and redevelopment, said Easley.
Green added that the program began in August of 2010, and ended in November.
Easley explained that overall, participants of the program came from nine counties in metro Atlanta.
The academy will again be available in August, said Easley. For more information, call (404) 679-4789.