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Work Force Development

May 21 - Leadership Southeast Georgia Studies Economic Development With State Officials

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

May 21, 2019 - Leadership Southeast Georgia (LSEGA) members received a thorough grounding in economic development during the group’s fourth session, which took place in Bryan and Liberty Counties.

“We’re closing in on graduation for the LSEGA Class of 2019, and this was one of our most intense, informative sessions of the entire program,” said Lee Beckmann, chairman of the group. “We talked with everyone from state and local officials to real estate developers about the factors that drive a decision to locate or grow in our area.”

The session began in Richmond Hill with greetings from Assistant City Manager Scott Allison; City Councilwoman Tara Baraniak; and Bryan County Commission Chairman Carter Infinger.

From there, the group visited the Daniel Defense manufacturing facility in Black Creek, GA, where they heard from owner, Marty Daniel, about how the company wound up in the newest location of Daniel Defense and how the building is designed for future growth. Daniel was joined by Sean Register, vice chairman of the Development Authority of Bryan County, and Alyce Thornhill, now of the Georgia Lottery and previously with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, who focused on the factors associated with attracting businesses to build in the community.

Other highlights included:

  • Lunch with Bryan County Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher, who discussed the relationship between the school district and growth in the housing market.
  • A meeting with Joel Smoker, CEO of YMCA of Coastal Georgia, to discuss the nonprofit perspective of economic development and the realities of poverty statistics in the region.
  • An overview of joint development efforts by officials from Bryan, Effingham, Bulloch and Chatham Counties including Anna Chafin, Benjy Thompson, Jessica Hood and regional economic development representatives from Georgia Power and the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Jason Coley and Mary-Kathryn Griffin respectively.
  • A discussion of the history of Richmond Hill and impact of tourism in Bryan County followed by a bus tour of the Ford Plantation.
  • A discussion on the impact of the film industry in coastal Georgia led by Brynn Grant of the Savannah Economic Development Authority.

The group began its second day hearing from Leah Poole, CEO of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and CVB, and Jennifer Darsey of the United Way of the Coastal Empire.

Morning sessions included Bill Cunningham of Raydient Places + Properties and Scott Allison from the city of Richmond Hill, who focused on public/private partnerships and their role in economic development, as well as, Ron Tolley, CEO of the Liberty County Development Authority, who led a case study on industrial park planning.

Other officials joined the group mid-morning to discuss economic development and public policy. On hand were Chris Nunn, Department of Community Affairs Commissioner; State Rep. Ron Stephens, chair of the Georgia House Economic Development and Tourism Committee; Joe Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah; along with Stacy Watson, director of economic and industrial development for the Georgia Ports Authority.

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