Sumter County Payroll Development Authority: An important neighbor
The Sumter County Payroll Development Authority (PDA) has been putting in some dedicated work in the name of making our community stronger and healthier. The PDA is tasked with several goals; however, they are best known as the entity who recruits and grows industry in Sumter County. The Americus Times Recorder sat down with Executive Director, Rusty Warner, to learn more about their duties, opportunities, successes and challenges. Rusty and his wife Susan are relatively new to Americus. Having been here for two years, Rusty is able to identify one of the greatest resources we have as our people. Our neighbors are only one, but a powerful resource in making our home a top choice for industry. It is important we realize we all have a role in inviting high paying jobs into our neighborhoods. Being a good ambassador for the county does not fall directly on our city and county employees, or even our elected officials. Each resident has an impact on a business’ decision on moving into the area. How we speak about our home, how we approach our challenges and the priorities we set are all indicative of what this area has to offer. Rusty is quick to give credit to not only our elected, but to our citizens in helping make our area an attractive choice for business.
Over the past year we have seen several businesses come into town and they all seem to be flourishing while also offering higher than average wages, some even offer commissions and bonuses. In addition to bringing new industry into town, the PDA is also ensuring our existing industry has every opportunity to add to their outputs and workforce. Rusty admits there is a “secret sauce” to how he operates the Authority. First, he knows his resources. Being home to two institutes of higher education, he highlights what they can offer to a potential employer. South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) plays a unique role in creating a work ready workforce for individual businesses. The PDA, SGTC and potential businesses work together to train employees on industry-specific procedures and equipment. Through this partnership a business can have employees ready for work on the first day. Institutions of higher education are not the only resources he capitalizes upon. A new high school and the success they can claim is imperative to new industry. This is primarily for two reasons, the first is a new business needs a solid workforce to employ. The Sumter County Board of Education also holds being career ready as a part of their mission, which makes the partnership between the PDA and the BOE a must have. Secondly, for a business to bring employees to the area, it must know the school system is stellar and will provide their employees’ children with a quality education.
The PDA can offer building space to businesses as well. The Ted Baldwin Industrial Park has completed and spec buildings available to house industry. Currently the park is close to being full. As with our own family homes, having solid utilities is imperative to success. Rusty gives much credit to Sumter EMC as well as Georgia Power for their ready willingness to work with business. When a business is within the city limits, the partnership with public works must also run smoothly. Rusty also believes industry will follow the path of “roofs, retail and industry.” Roofs are us, the people who live here. Retail is the opportunity provided us to spend our dollars locally and industry comes last because they will want to be housed in a location where the other two are thriving.
Rusty and the PDA board work tirelessly to see their plans come to fruition. The PDA is limited in their ability to broadcast their work because a business’ plans are of strict confidentiality. At any given moment, the PDA may be working on multiple projects without the community being aware. Rusty was able to report there are four advanced manufacturing industries strongly considering our home to be theirs. Another resource Rusty and the PDA must have is patience. One business coming to town could represent years’ worth of work. The details required to be worked out to start business are many and sometimes complicated. Rusty and the PDA board must be dedicated over the long haul to see success.
While we are also seeing industry come to town and established businesses growing, the PDA’s attempts to keep the public up to date are also multiple. The PDA has a Facebook page which can educate the public on incentives and developments in the economic development world. Additionally, selectsumter.com offers a plethora of information on how Sumter County is being marketed. In addition to such information, there are also job listings for existing industry which job hunters will find most helpful.
So how can we support the PDA as they go about their important work? There are multiple ways. Please keep in mind when a potential company is coming to town, they are looking at our home and they are listening to our people. Companies are going to invest where the citizens invest. Just as you would if personal company were coming to town, simple cleaning and upkeep of your home is most helpful. The pride a community takes in their surroundings speaks to how much we value ourselves as well as each other. Also, just as if you were meeting someone for the first time, it is nice to have someone tell of your good qualities. When speaking of Sumter County, whether it be verbally or in written form as in social media, it matters. Companies will peruse social media as well as websites, newspapers and other media to get a good idea of what it is like to live in the area. Rusty admires our community for taking on our problems in an active manner. He mentions the month of prayer the Americus Police Department utilized as a “thinking outside of the box” method to address our crime statistics. While no business expects a utopian community, they do like to see a community who is not afraid to address their challenges. Another reason your vote is so important is because our representatives are huge in welcoming industry to town. Sumter County’s mayors, councils and commissioners are often the front line in meeting potential industry. Citizens might not think of this as they cast their votes, however, our elected are in fact our faces to people who are also “voting” on where to house their business. Lastly, invest your talents here, just as you would want industry to invest theirs. In Rusty’s “secret sauce” there are plenty of opportunities only Sumter County can provide, he highlights them for all to see. Please know, you are one of his highlighted benefits.
To learn more about the Sumter County Payroll Development Authority, please visit selectsumter.com, take a look at their Facebook page at Sumter County Georgia Development Authority, give Rusty and Susan a visit at Rees Park or give them a call at 229.924.7007. The PDA board consists of Paul V. Hall, Chairman, Mike Donnelly, Vice Chairman, Teresa O’Bryant, Secretary, Bill Harris, Sr., Treasurer and John Shealy, Assistant Treasurer.