Executive Director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development Melinda Lemmon was joined by Chairman of the Bartow County Development Authority and Commissioner-elect Steve Taylor for the annual meeting of the Southeast U.S./Japan Association and the Japan-Southeast U.S. Association.
Every other year the annual meeting rotates host countries and this was Japan’s first hosting opportunity following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. With seven Japanese industries represented in Bartow County, Lemmon and Taylor felt their attendance alongside Gov. Nathan Deal went a long way to show support and appreciation to international partners.
“We were able to connect with five of the seven existing Japanese industries in Bartow and we’re pleased with the results,” Lemmon said. “Basically, we had an opportunity to say thank you for the investment and the jobs they have in Bartow County. And we were able to learn from them. In some cases we got tours. In other cases, we just enjoyed listening and learning about how the company is doing and what we could do to help.
“I’m glad to say that we’ve got some really good relationships started that I think will be fruitful in the future. ... This business is all about relationships, more than most marketing organizations. So to build relationships with those companies was very important to us and I think that they were grateful to have us pay them a visit.”
Taylor also commented on the importance of relationships in the realm of economic development adding that the trip gave them an opportunity to share with existing industries and site selection companies about Bartow County resources, including education and the proposed Bartow County College and Career Academy.
“It went really well. We talked to [existing companies] about some expansion plans they might have in the future and told them how much we appreciate them being a part of Bartow County and their contribution to our workforce,” Taylor said. “We talked a lot about education opportunities for their workers and what the county had to offer in those respects.
“We met with a couple of site selection companies and that is just planting seeds for what we hope will be future Bartow County companies. ... Prospective companies contract with these site selection companies and we did talk to two of those. We don’t have any prospects from them, but it was a chance to educate them on what Bartow County has to offer.”
In addition to Japanese companies, Lemmon and Taylor also furthered relationships with state leaders as the governor and officials with the Georgia Department of Economic Development were part of the state delegation to attend. Taylor described Bartow County as “very well represented” among the state — while Gov. Deal attended on behalf of the entire state, only a few community-specific representatives participated.
There are seven Japanese industries located in Bartow County: Daiki Corporation, Faltec America, Komatsu America, Ohno America, Sakai America, Toyo Tire North American Manufacturing and Yanmar America.
Lemmon gave special thanks and recognition to existing industries, the quality of which she found aided in talks with prospective companies and site selectors.
“The quality of these companies is evident when talking to others trying to pitch Bartow County,” Lemmon said. “They sit back and pay a little more attention when they hear what companies are in Bartow already.”