Finely-honed EDGE Program set to boost Cobb’s future
by Jon Gillooly
March 29, 2013 12:19 AM | 5890 views | 8 8 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb's Competitive EDGE campaign kickoff was Thursday at the WellStar Development Center in Marietta. EDGE leaders looking over the kickoff program for the evening include, from left: Shan Cooper, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Marietta plant; Cobb Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Connell; Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee; EDGE Executive Director Brooks Mathis; WellStar Senior Vice-President of Public and Government Affairs Kim Menefee; and Kaiser Permanente of Georgia Vice President of Regional and Marketing Strategy Dan Styf.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Cobb's Competitive EDGE campaign kickoff was Thursday at the WellStar Development Center in Marietta. EDGE leaders looking over the kickoff program for the evening include, from left: Shan Cooper, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Marietta plant; Cobb Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Connell; Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee; EDGE Executive Director Brooks Mathis; WellStar Senior Vice-President of Public and Government Affairs Kim Menefee; and Kaiser Permanente of Georgia Vice President of Regional and Marketing Strategy Dan Styf.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
One hundred community leaders came together in high spirits Thursday night to celebrate the kickoff of Cobb’s Competitive Economic Development for a Growing Economy initiative at the WellStar Development Center in Marietta. 

“It’s been quite a journey, I think about 18 months or so as we’ve developed Cobb’s Competitive EDGE, and it’s very exciting because it’s our first comprehensive community and economic development strategy,” said EDGE co-chair Kim Menefee, WellStar Health System’s senior vice president of public and government affairs. 

WellStar has pledged $250,000 to the EDGE program, a five-year economic development strategy that will be housed and staffed at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce in the form of a nonprofit. 

EDGE co-chair Dan Styf, vice president of regional and marketing strategy with Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, described what the strategy intends to accomplish. Kaiser has also pledged $250,000 to EDGE. 

By the end of the five-year term, EDGE will have created 7,500 new jobs, increased payroll earnings and income by $420 million and $7,000 per capita in Cobb County, reduced unemployment to 5.5 percent, increased the public school graduation rate by 4 percent and increased the number of college-bound students in Cobb by 7 percent, Styf said. 

Two years ahead

County Chairman Tim Lee said most metro Atlanta counties are where Cobb was two years ago. 

“When we sit back four years from now and look back at our successes and talk about this evening, we’re going to do it with such great pride, we’re going to do it with such enthusiasm, and we’re going to be proud to say, ‘I was part of that, you know, I was there.’ And it’s the folks that stepped out and put their money where their mouth is that I’m most appreciative inasmuch as they’re helping make this happen,” Lee said. 

During his last year as a district commissioner in 2009, Lee began working on the proposal that is now EDGE with Cobb Chamber of Commerce leaders Rob Garcia and David Connell. 

“We needed a more structured, focused, aggressive economic development plan for the county, and we put our heads together and started to work on a plan back then,” Lee said. “At that time, the Chamber was going through some changes, the county was obviously going through some changes, so it was tabled, and then when I became chair, we moved it forward, and this is the culmination of all of that.”

EDGE will have a $4 million budget over five years, funded mostly by businesses, with the possibility of some public dollars or in-kind donations. 

Bank of North Georgia president Rob Garcia said they have raised $1.4 million of the $4 million to date. He urged businesses to open their checkbooks and help fund the program. Garcia’s bank has pledged $100,000. 

“I want to challenge you financially. We need your help,” Garcia said. 

Economic leadership

Lee said Gwinnett County, Cobb’s biggest competitor, is trying to regain the confidence of its voters. 

“We have that,” Lee said. “Cobb cities, all of the development authorities, all of the economic development folks, the Cobb County Travel and Tourism, our state partners, ACCG, GMA, all the groups associated with this that helped make this happen, they said to us, ‘Cobb you figure it out.’”

Lee said his answer to that was to appoint Brooks Mathis of Atlanta, who was hired two years ago as the Chamber’s economic development vice president, as the program’s executive director. 

“We figured it out,” Lee said. “We got a guy right here as our point person for all 700,000 people. Brooks, he is the guy for us. And the state said when we get done with this program, the state is going to say to us every lead that comes into the state is going to come to Cobb County, I just know it.”

Cobb School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa spoke of the educational impact. 

“I think that to continue the quality of life that we have in Cobb County, which I think the schools contribute to, we need to have a good economic development base, and it’s very important for the community to continue to grow, and so they’ve told me many times that part of the advantage of EDGE is that we have good schools to sell,” Hinojosa said. “And I believe that, and I think we need to be a part of that and be a player in this game, and we have a good thing going here in Cobb County.”

Competition from everywhere

Mason Zimmerman, who chairs the Town Center Area Community Improvement District, serves on the board of the Cumberland Community Improvement District, and is a senior vice president of Pope & Land, made a case of why it was crucial that Cobb become as competitive as possible. 

The Town Center CID has pledged $17,000 to EDGE, he said. 

Zimmerman’s development firm has been based in Cobb County 30 years building millions of square feet of office space, he said. 

“This is important to us as an investor because we attract capital, we invest in this community, we are part of that audience, and we’re all in, we’re buying the mission, we love the metrics, we love the benchmarks, the performance standards, the clarity, the keys to success, that’s what it takes,” Zimmerman said. 

It’s a competitive world, said Zimmerman, who lives in Gwinnett and has run his firm’s Charlotte office for the last six years. Pope & Land develops across metro Atlanta and in Charlotte, Charleston and Jacksonville, he said. 

“We get what you’re doing here,” Zimmerman said. “So I would say to those who haven’t invested – this is exactly what Cobb needs to do, you’re doing it right, got the right people, you got the right committees, you got the right structure, and it’s necessary. 

“We got a lot at stake. We’re at risk. And we’re all in. You’ve got to compete, not only with Gwinnett and north Fulton, but with Charlotte and Austin and Nashville and Jacksonville and Charleston, I know it. We’re there. So I’m so glad this team is here. I’m glad everyone in this room is here. Let’s all join hands and work it out.” 

----

EDGE program committee chairs

Cobb’s Competitive EDGE will carry out its plan by targeting areas headed up by seven committees, which they call the “seven seeds of success.”

  • Nicole Faulk, a regional manager for Georgia Power, chairs the committee known as Seed 1, which focuses on retaining and expanding existing business.
  • Mitzi Moore, president of Sundial Plumbing, chairs the Seed 2 committee, which encourages entrepreneurship and aids small business. 
  • Otis Brumby III, publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal, chairs Seed 3, which focuses on marketing Cobb County and projecting a positive image.
  • Beth Herman, a regional vice president with Manpower, chairs Seed 4, which focuses on recruiting, retaining and developing talent.
  • Greg Teague, engineering services director for Croy Engineering, chairs Seed 5, investing in transportation and infrastructure.
  • Dr. Bryan Crute, pastor of Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church, chairs Seed 6, supporting and coordinating redevelopment efforts.
  • Lanie Shipp and Mary Lou Stephens with the Town Center Area CID chair Seed 7, cultivating community identities and a sense of place.
Source: Brooks Mathis, EDGE executive director

Comments
(8)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
NoEdgeForUs
|
March 31, 2013
Since Brooks Mathis decided to publicly make a stand for gay marriage on Facebook and in the MDJ, our company will not be able to support the Edge initiative. We are a religious based company and as the executive director of Edge he has decided to alienate our client's and our board of director's religious beliefs. He made an unfortunate mistake. We wish you luck.
mk-poor cobb!!!!!
|
March 30, 2013
Pat is correct. Looks like a gathering of the same ole cronies. Nothing new. No real vision. Just chicken scratch.

Lets see, Lee is dreaming of what if, while Gwinnett Partnership HAS helped assist almost 300 relocation/expansions, generated 800 million in economic development, brought 12,500 new JOBS to Gwinnett, while adding to the schools revnue via tax base by 6 million.

Can Cobb ever catch up?

I seriously doubt it!
typical Pat
|
March 29, 2013
Literally every single comment that Pat H makes on this website is negative and for the most part ill informed. I wouldn't even bother to read what Pat H says anymore. They call them "trolls" in the internet world.
Pat H
|
March 30, 2013
If all you have to add is to attack with hate speech against someone who doesn't agree with you, then I suspect your motives and ponder whether you are personally profiting from Cobb's "economic development" money provided to the Chamber by taxpayers. The relationship is incestuous.

Don't like being reminded? Too bad. Freedom of speech. Freedom of speech. Freedom of speech. Freedom of speech.

Apparently with so many comments against me personally, I hit a nerve.
Tax Payers
|
March 29, 2013
This entire plan sounds wonderful to me. The money is coming from the private sector. And, from what I hear, everyone on the various committees is, indeed, a tax payer, Pat H. I also noticed that the MDJ Publisher chairs one of the committees. I believe there will be considerable oversight. For you and the negative bloggers, when you say a "Tax Payer Oversight" you mean a "We Like Nothing We Didn't Plan" Committee.
Oh, pat
|
March 29, 2013
Oh, Pat. If you only knew what you were talking about. Private corporations don't require taxpayer oversight since no taxpayer money is involved. That is a very simple answer to your ranting and uneducated comment.
Pat H
|
March 29, 2013
The incestuous circle of CIDs, Chamber of Commerce sycophants, political puppets and developers and businesses gathered to feed off the taxpayers largess and SPLOST slush funds.

Where is the taxpayer oversight for those benchmarks,etc.?
anonymous
|
March 29, 2013
This is the most progressive program anyone in the entire state has. When one wears dark glasses, the entire world is dark. Take the dark glasses off. Life is much brighter out there for those of us that don't wear them. Here's a clue for you: The private sector doesn't report to taxpayers.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides