ViewPoint: Where is EDC's captain?

November 18, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - With unemployment at a 16-year high in Georgia, it's more important than ever for economic developers to work to attract and maintain jobs.

When Cooper Tire recently announced plans to close one its four plants, leaders with the Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission jumped into action. They created the "I Love Cooper" campaign and began working with state leaders on incentive plans to make sure Cooper's Albany plant stays open.

We also applaud the EDC for developing a new strategic plan earlier this year and for updating its website to publicize the area better. But not all the news is positive.

Nearly eight months after forcing out EDC President Tim Martin, the group isn't close to picking a replacement. After a lengthy search, the board recently chose just one finalist for the job. He turned them down at the last minute, and now the EDC must start over from scratch.

Why in the world was there not a second and third finalist identified??? We could not ask that question because in violation of sunshine laws, the media was not allowed in the room...

We understand the need to pick the right person for the job, but in this economic climate, the development commission should not be without a full-time leader for a year. It looks like that could happen.

Jobs are scarce. Communities must compete hard for jobs. Any slip-up could be costly. That's why we're glad the EDC and other community leaders are working so hard to keep Cooper. And that's why we encourage EDC officials to bring in a new president quickly and do all they can to protect and create jobs.