14 Mar Athens Mayoral Candidate Urges Local Government to Move Economic Development Department
In an effort to enhance the capabilities of Athens-Clarke County’s economic development efforts, mayoral candidate Richie Knight urges local commissioners to merge the Athens-Clarke County Economic Development Department with the Athens-Area Chamber of Commerce.
In times past, chambers of commerce were tasked with helping spawn economic development within the cities they served. Many have come to believe they can often only provide networking opportunities for businesses and do not contribute to the overall growth of a community. During the search for a new president and this time of transition at the local Chamber, Knight believes combining the efforts of the department of economic development within the chamber would lead to more effective means of attracting the right businesses and quality jobs for all Athenians.
“Athens is the fifth largest city in Georgia, and in that lies great opportunity. I’d like it to become the number one city to do business in and by creating a powerful partnership between our Chamber of Commerce and local government, there could not be a more perfect time do so than the present.”
The mission of the Athens-Area Chamber of Commerce is to develop a city that is conducive and attractive to business while the economic development department provides site location assistance to domestic and international companies planning new or expanded facilities.
Knight believes this move will make Athens more competitive.
“This merge would make Athens more competitive with other cities in Georgia by centralizing the most important arm of our city’s growth. At the same time, it would allow us to better serve taxpayers by reducing wasteful spending, duplicated services, and overhead. I’ve spent the last year touring aspirational cities and meeting with their mayors, and a government that works hand-in-hand with a strong, engaged, vibrant chamber of commerce is our main missing element. It’s time for Athens to better support our business community and attract better jobs for our citizens.”