Skip to main content

A Conversation with Daniel Jackson & Eric McDonald of the Greater West Georgia Joint Development Authority

Beginning with only four member counties in the late 1990s, the Greater West Georgia Joint Development Authority (GWGJDA) has grown to represent seven area counties, including: Polk, Haralson, Paulding, Carroll, Heard, Coweta, and Troup.

We spoke to Eric McDonald, President & CEO of Greater Haralson Chamber of Commerce, and Daniel Jackson, President & CEO of Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, about the collaborative nature of the Development Authority that allows members to work together on multi-county projects to benefit West Georgia residents.

What are your current role and responsibilities as part of the GWGJDA?

Eric: I am a supporting staff member for the Greater West Georgia Joint Development Authority. We are an economic development and business growth entity responsible for growing the region’s retail and industrial base. The Board of Directors of the GWGJDA is appointed by the respective county commissions. Supporting staff from each of the economic development agencies also attend the meetings and suggest direction for the board.

Daniel: Our role initially was bringing everyone together. We were unorganized, we had no plan in place, and my belief was if we could work together we could be a lot more effective. The board is the one who votes on official actions, but as a staff we all work together to make recommendations for the Authority’s role in trade shows, sponsorships, or conferences and then present to the board members for them to actually approve and adopt what we suggest. As support staff, we take the responsibility to lead, recommend and suggest.

How do the seven counties work together within the GWGJDA?

Eric: When we first get an industry that’s interested in our region, we fight over it individually as counties. Then, interestingly enough, if they’reconducting a multiple county search, you’ll see that as counties get cut, we then get back on the team to help the other counties. So, it’s really “coopera-tition” at its finest, where we cooperate and we compete almost in the same breath. Member counties pay an annual fee into the pot, and everyone pays the same no matter the size. This helps the smaller counties get access to the same companies that want to talk with the largest county. We utilize that much larger population, workforce, congressional district, trade school pools in order to get meetings.

Daniel: We said one day, ‘you know there’s a good chance we’re gonna be competing with each other for projects at some point, how do we deal with that?’ and the consensus was if any of us gets it, we all won because the employers and the employees don’t so much respect county boundaries and the truth is we’re competing for the rest of Georgia, other states, the U.S. as a whole, and maybe even the globe. Also, we all did an inventory of assets in the community and if we get a call from the state or a project manager and they’re looking for a hundred acres and we don’t have it, then we’ll recommend Polk or Paulding or whoever does have it. So it’s been a good positive experience for everyone.

What are some of the Authority’s greatest success stories?

Eric: One of our greatest accomplishments was partnering with Carroll EMC to look at providing rural broadband. So we pooled our resources and partnered with them to do a broadband study which turned out to be a big economic development deal because at the time it wasn’t recognized just how dire the need was. Now, Carroll EMC has been using that report to make decisions moving forward and Haralson County used the report to deploy a $200,000 broadband contract. In fact, we are in the process of applying for another broadband grant using the report generated by the Authority.

Daniel: A few years ago, we went on a trade mission with the state and our team members rotated to help staff the Georgia Economic Developers booth. Just the ability for our various folks to go and represent the region, to work together, and to work with the state. It’s very valuable for us to get these chances to represent our counties and to draw industries to our part of the country and our part of the state. We’ve all had our victories in the last few years.

What is the Authority’s long-term vision?

Eric: For the board is to just continue to market the region and raise awareness that West Georgia is a good place to be.

Daniel: To continue to be formally affiliated with each other, to continue to invest money in a pool that we can use. Our role is really to market and get exposure for West Georgia.


Popular posts from this blog

West Georgia Habitat Changes Lives

Habitat for Humanity builds more than homes, it provides a new beginning to deserving people. Since 1976, Habitat has helped 6.8 million people find strength, stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable shelter. R. K. Redding Construction organized the West Georgia Habitat for Humanity home build in Bremen last fall. Twenty companies that work in the West Georgia area came together as one to build a new home for a deserving family in Haralson County. This “community” of volunteers not only made a significant difference for the area, according to recent studies, employees are more satisfied with their jobs when they are allowed to take a day for community service. In addition, 59% of Americans are more likely to buy a product associated with a corporate-nonprofit partnership. Beyond the obvious of doing good deeds in the communities in which you serve, it has been proven that companies which practice corporate social responsibility will significantly outperfor

Interview with Jennifer Shunn, Executive Director West Georgia Habitat for Humanity

RKR: Tell us a little about your background. Jennifer: Prior to working with West Ga Habitat for Humanity, my work experience had always been in universities in either enrollment management or development. When my husband and I moved to Carrollton in 2000, I chose to do freelance consultant work to better control my schedule while being a full-time mom. When a position became available at West Ga Habitat, I realized that I had an opportunity to work for an organization where I could really embrace my faith and make a difference in people’s lives. The position with Habitat allowed me to utilize both my employment and life experiences and my education in psychology and public administration. Working for the organization has been a big blessing in my life. RKR: What excites you about your role at Habitat and how have your responsibilities changed through the years? Jennifer: For the first 15-20 years, the West Ga Habitat was completely run by volunteers. In 2005, I was hired throu

Laura Richards | Founder & Chair of the Friends of Carrollton GreenBelt, LLC

Share with us your background that led to you founding Carrollton GreenBelt. I am from Carrollton, but left in 1990 to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Then I moved back in 2009. While I was away, I biked across the United States and then led as a European guide for Vermont Bicycle Touring. That’s when it clicked for me regarding trails. I first rode with guests on trails separated from roads in the Netherlands. There I saw people holding hands while they biked and carrying pets and their groceries to the extent that it became more than a trail, but a really busy public space. Our Greenbelt serves that role as one of Carrollton's newest parks and showcases local natural wonders. It’s a great way to enjoy the great outdoors. What’s the most rewarding part of what you do/have done at GreenBelt? To see the city of Carrollton submit its application to be a bike friendly community was the most rewarding part to me. That designation is through the League of

Laura Boalch, Technical College System of Georgia Q&A

Q: Please share with us your background and how you came to work at TCSG. A: In the mid 1990’s, I began working in the Legislative Budget Office (LBO). In this role, we were charged with the development of the state budget for TCSG (then Department of Technical and Adult Education - DTAE) and various other agencies for the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia State Senate. At that time, admittedly, I knew very little about the Technical College System of Georgia as I had taken the more traditional route of attending the University of West Georgia to earn my BBA in Accounting. During my time at LBO, I had the opportunity to travel around the state visiting TCSG campuses. After talking with students, faculty, and staff at the colleges, I soon learned the purpose of what we do at TCSG and why we do it—to supply local business and industry with a skilled workforce. I was fascinated with the mission of the system and the passion of the faculty and staff. I quickly realized th

Strong Foundations | Fall 2018

A Message from Randall Redding As the season changes, it brings a sense of renewal at RKR. Hopefully the brisk temperatures refresh you during the Holiday Season. I am excited to share the latest issue of the Strong Foundations newsletter. In the first article, we spoke with West Georgia Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Jennifer Shunn. She’s made a tremendous impact on housing across the entire region. RKR is honored to work with this extremely worthwhile non-profit organization to help construct homes for those in need. In a previous issue, we shared how workforce development was a focus for the construction industry, and it’s a topic that is still very relevant. In fact, I recently participated in an Atlanta Journal Constitution interview, along with the Associated General Contractors Association. May you enjoy the Holidays filled with love, laughter and family. Thanks for your friendship and continued support, Randall K. Redding President & CEO