The Grady County Commission and Grady County Lake Authority met jointly last Wednesday to formalize the creation of the Grady Growth, Marketing and Development Committee.
Both entities made recommendations for prospective members of the 23-person committee.
“We had a very positive meeting. Everyone who was involved that I have spoken to were complimentary. I’m excited about the opportunity this group has to work together to literally shape the future of the lake and how we want Grady County as a whole to be seen by others,” said J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, Grady County administrator.
Johnson invited Bainbridge’s city manager, Chris Hobby, to speak at the joint meeting last week. Hobby shared with local leaders and committee members what has taken place in Georgia’s Inland Port City over the past 20 years and the transformation that has taken place there.
Hobby said that the community focused on the Flint River, which is the community’s single greatest natural asset. Development around the river has stretched into the central business district, which the Bainbridge city manager said has realized phenomenal growth and development.
Johnson said that he had heard Hobby speak to a meeting of city and county managers recently. “What they have been able to do in Bainbridge is similar to what we need to accomplish here. We need to focus on our lake, which is our biggest asset, and pull together a marketing plan that promotes all of our other assets. We must all embrace the lake, which is the centerpiece of what we have to offer visitors and newcomers,” he said.
Lake Authority consultant Will Butler also addressed those in attendance at last week’s meeting. Butler has been instrumental in negotiating better relations with neighboring Leon County, Florida. Up until recently Leon County officials filed complaints regarding Grady County and Tired Creek Lake with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition to helping foster a cooperative, working relationship with Leon County, Butler has also been key to Leon County tourism officials inviting Grady County to participate in its tourism and marketing initiatives.
The Grady Growth, Marketing and Development Committee will be co-chaired by Grady County Commissioner June Knight and Lake Authority member Bob Ponder, both of whom are residents of District 1 where Tired Creek Lake is located.
Other members of the committee include: Grady County Commissioner Phillip Drew, Richard Jordan, Charles Renaud, Margaret Tyson, Archway professional Whitney Yarbrough, Grady County Recreation Department director Becky Bracewell, Dr. Larry Greene, Randy Wind, Grady County Joint Development Authority executive director Julian Brown, Marilyn Simmons Mason, the Rev. Dr. Debra Knight, Marty McGuire, Gary Jones, Linda Drew Johnson, Chamber of Commerce executive secretary Courtney King, Buddy West, Luther Dollar, Cairo City Councilman Jerry Cox, Chris Weaver, Stacy Sanders, Dave Mitchell, Kay David, and Cairo Main Street director Alyssa Blakley. Chamber of Commerce executive director Trey Gainous will serve as the committee’s moderator.
Johnson says the committee will hold its first official meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 26, beginning at 9 a.m. At next week’s meeting, the committee will subdivide into workgroups and begin work.
“This is not window dressing! This is no ‘resume’ building’ or ‘political stunt’ committee. The group will be instrumental and frankly critical to how Grady County markets itself as a whole as well as the lake going forward,” the county administrator said.
“What this committee finalizes and presents will be put into action and the growth will snowball from there,” he added.
However, Johnson noted that the final decision on recommendations from the committee will be up to the lake authority and board of commissioners.