Photo by Jim Massara
The team behind the effort to revamp Clayton’s economic-development strategy: Jason Chernock, Georgia Tech; Yulonda Beauford, Clayton County Chamber of Commerce; and Larry Vincent, Development Authority of Clayton County.
MORROW — More than 100 Clayton County citizens, ranging from the power elite to average Joes, packed a Clayton State conference room Thursday night to kick off the county’s effort to develop a new economic strategy.
The forum, held to explain the planning process and field question from the community, was facilitated by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Institute, which will manage the effort. Other sponsors included the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce and the Development Authority of Clayton County.
“I am very satisfied with the turnout,” said chamber president Yulonda Beauford. “It was a great mixture of local residents that were here, businesses of all sizes, small and large.”
Also on hand were various county commissioners, mayors, and other officials both elected and unelected.
“We’re talking about putting Clayton County in first place, and to do that we need all of you,” Clayton County Commissioner Wole Ralph told the audience.
After a brief description of the planning process, audience members peppered project manager Jason Chernock with questions and comments. Topics included returning transit to Clayton County, involving neighborhood leaders and even how one audience member thought the planning agenda might have been set by the United Nations.
Chernock answered all questions but urged the audience to stay focused on economic development and job growth.
“The one thing I’m cautious about is trying to make it [the planning process] everything for every constituency, because if you try to solve all problems you end up essentially solving nothing,” Chernock said.
Riverdale city engineer Karl Kelley drew audience applause when he said he hoped the new strategy could improve Clayton County’s reputation in metro Atlanta.
“I’m hoping that what you bring to us is an ability to bring positive recognition to Clayton County so we’ll get away from the perception of being Atlanta’s red-headed stepchild,” Kelley said.
After the question and answer session, Chernock said that he thought the forum went “very well.”
The next step will be one-on-one interviews conducted by Chernock’s team in August with elected officials, civic leaders and community activists.
“I’m where the buck stops at Georgia Tech for the project, so you should call me,” Chernock said.
Chernock’s phone number is (404) 385-0829. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.