When it comes to economic development in the Thomaston-Upson area, the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) board is continuing to work hard to recruit new industries and keep the ones that are already here. However, no matter how hard you work, it is always beneficial to have another set of eyes to help you see where you may be falling short; which is where The Pendleton Consulting Group comes into the picture. Pendleton Consulting has chosen Thomaston-Upson County to be part of their Economic Development Pilot Program, which will work with community leaders to develop strategies to improve upon economic development issues, free of charge.
IDA Executive Director Kyle Fletcher couldn’t be more excited for our community to be a part of this program.
“The fact that our community was chosen for this program is both encouraging and exciting. Our first meeting proved that we have the resources, people and facilities in place, we simply need some guidance and expertise in establishing strategies for retention and recruitment of industries,” said Fletcher. “We plan to spend several months meeting and creating a roadmap for our leaders to follow. There is no doubt the wealth of knowledge that the Pendleton group brings to the table will ensure future success for Thomaston-Upson County in economic development issues.”
Commission Chairman and IDA Board member Maurice Raines also feels this opportunity can only help the Thomaston-Upson community. Craig Lesser, who is a managing partner with Pendleton Consulting had been given Raines’ number through the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia and told him his group would like to help in any way possible when it came to economic development.
“I was just blown away that their group wanted to help us and especially having someone as well known as Mr. Lesser on board,” said Raines. “He (Lesser) is one of the people who helped to bring KIA to Georgia and he is known both nationally and internationally in the area of economic development.”
Thomaston Mayor Hays Arnold, who serves on the IDA board as well, feels that Pendleton Consulting can help our town get back some of what has slipped away over the years.
“For several years, as a result of having lost so much of our textile industry, we have suffered from an identity issue. Pendleton offers consulting to help with branding and in assisting in developing business strategies compatible with our specific community needs and abilities,” said Arnold. “I think it is very important for us to understand our weaknesses and our strengths so we can better utilize time and resources in seeking business and industry for our community. I welcome the learning opportunity this group of experts will bring to our community.”
Lesser stated that he and his group are coming in as outsiders, not to tell community leaders what to do but only to help them come to a conclusion of what they want to do. There is no exact time frame that they will be working with this area, but Lesser figures it will take several meetings over the next few months to come up with a strategy and how to execute it. After being introduced to the committee during the first meeting two weeks ago, he is also encouraged that things will be successful.
“I was quite excited with the passion that those individuals brought to the table and I feel it was especially helpful to have both the commission chair and the mayor being frank in their comments on the visions they have to look ahead and grow this community into a great place to live, work and play.”
Another meeting with Pendleton Consulting is scheduled for this month and the committee is excited to begin developing ideas of how to move Thomaston-Upson County forward. However, Mayor Arnold feels that the job of implementing the ideas belongs to the whole community, not just the focus group.
“At the end of this process, those of us who remain and choose to live in our community will be charged with the responsibility of moving forward. That is not a responsibility the Pendleton Group, or any other advisory group, is obligated to assume. It is our responsibility as a community. It is not a task elected officials can accomplish by themselves. It is a torch that must be handed to every citizen in our community with the understanding that to achieve success, we all have to feel the fire in our belly.”