Fall Feather Hunt looks to trap more than birds - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Fall Feather Hunt looks to trap more than birds

December 8, 2005

Worth County- The Fall Feather Hunt is a statewide economic development marketing effort. Since it started 18 years ago, it's brought 3.1 billion dollars in new or expanding business and created more than 13 thousand jobs in Georgia.

In 1987, the unemployment rate in Dougherty County was 15 percent and three major manufacturers, Firestone, Dow Chemical and Littleston has just announced closings. With Bob's Candies gone and Merck and Company closing, the Fall Feather Hunt is more important than ever.

Bryan McClure is the President of Blair Group LLC, a consultant for 141 projects nationwide including, Fortune 500 companies. He's interested in south Georgia.

"Yes, we are looking here for opportunities, you know to bring companies into this area and we have several companies that are looking for this geographical positioning," said Bryan McClure, Blair Group LLC President.

He recently finished the Lowes Distribution expansion in Valdosta and says south Georgia has much to offer.

"It's got a great labor force, it's got a low cost of operating, it's got a great work ethic, and that's a real critical component," said McClure.

Getting that message out is the first step, but the state and region must be willing to offer incentives to attract new business and grow existing business.

"Many of these prospects will be candidates for a OneGeogia grant, that program where the state is investing its tobacco funds in creating jobs across the state," said Lt. Governor Mark Taylor.

Areas must also strike while the iron is hot, announcements like Merck leaving, could be welcome news to other pharmaceutical groups.

"One man's loss could be another man's gain, and we do, finding that out and finding that opportunity and moving quickly on it, again that actionable intelligence," said McClure.

While this is a tough time for jobs all over the state of Georgia.

"Unemployment in Georgia is higher today than it was, it's higher than the national average for the first time since 1989 and take home pay in Georgia is down more in the last two years than any state in the nation," said Taylor.

That's why events like the Fall Feather Hunt are important to help government and businesses forge profitable partnerships. Communities can no longer, hope for jobs they've got to actively search.

"Hope is not an economic strategy. You'll hear people talk about well, we hope somebody will come. That is not an economic strategy, that never works," McClure.

Seventeen executives representing 11 states attended this years Fall Feather Hunt.

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