Tuesday’s Bartow-Cartersville Joint Development Authority meeting was a homecoming of sorts for two of its members, one current and one former.
Chairman James Jarrett was on hand for the first time in months to head the meeting, as he had previously been overseas in his capacity as director of Contract Manufacturing for Shaw Industries. As he opened the meeting, Jarrett thanked the board members and the board’s employees for their work while he was gone.
“I want to also say thank you for all the hard work in landing the next Shaw Industries here in Bartow County. It was very competitive, so I’ve been told. I was actually frozen out on both sides of the deal. I didn’t get to participate in the company other than making sure they know there was places in Bartow County to put the plant. So it’s been a very eventful six months or so, so thank you for all that you’ve done,” Jarrett said.
Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor, who had previously served as the authority’s secretary, was present as well, though he was unaware of the true reason he had been invited to the meeting.
After going over the JDA’s 2012 financial audit, which the board unanimously approved, Jarrett revealed an award for Taylor that recognized his work in driving Bartow County economic development.
“Steve, best as I recall, has been on the JDA since the very beginning, and has served as secretary for most of that time. We appreciate your knowledge of the community, and of business and the common sense approach you’ve brought to us as an authority and you are now bringing to us as a commissioner,” Jarret said.
Taylor thanked Jarrett for the award, but was quick to recognize the contributions of other JDA board members and the board’s staff, including Cartersville-Bartow County Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon.
“I think we’ve got a great team here, and I’m just so proud of the board and all the staff and what they’re doing. It’s been a pleasure, it really has,” Taylor said. “And had I not been on the JDA, I’m sure I wouldn’t be Bartow County commissioner right now. ... But I do think that’s mostly responsible for why I am commissioner and I so love this community so much.”
After the meeting, Taylor said the board’s ability to work together in a manner benefitting the entire county, rather than attempting to support either the county or Cartersville alone, was its greatest strength.
“Oh, it feels great, but I actually feel like I don’t deserve this honor. The whole group does, as I said before, we’ve been together for eight or nine years now and everybody pitched in and we’ve worked really well as a group — both the city and county appointees — we make no difference in our meetings as long as it’s better for county communities. That’s what’s most important,” he said.
Taylor’s award comes as the JDA’s flagship project is about to reach a milestone. Lemmon reported to the council voestalpine, an Austrian manufacturer of automotive parts and first occupant in the Highland 75 industrial park, has moved into its building.
“The company actually moved into their offices last week. The contractor still has maybe a week or two of cleanup and a few punch list items,” Lemmon said. “But the construction, sites of construction, is in the cleanup process.”
Although production is proceeding on a limited scale, Lemmon said part of the factory is operational and additional equipment is on the way. When asked about the company’s hiring processes, Lemmon responded it was underway.
“They’re in process. Most of their management staff are in there, and I’m not sure how many production workers. It’s a handful right now, but they are in the process of growing that, especially as the contractors are moving on,” she said.
The JDA’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 19, at noon at the Clarence Brown Conference Center. However, a called meeting may be held before that date to handle upcoming business.