Monday’s announcement of a Belgian company coming to northwest Georgia signals a new way of doing business for Whitfield County officials.
They had to branch-out to help their region’s battered economy.
The arrival of vinyl flooring-maker IVC Group to the Dalton-area came after heavy recruitment and competition with other communities along the Interstate-75 corridor. Whitfield County has lost thousands of jobs over the past two years, so the promise of more than 100 new jobs is welcome.
County commission chairman Mike Babb says it’s the first time in years officials have actively gone out to recruit a company. That’s because for too long he says, the region has been "fat, dumb and happy" with the established industry:
"Carpet was such a strong economic factor that a lot of companies wouldn’t come in and compete with the carpet industry for the labor, nor did we see any need to go out and try to recruit new companies. Well, the whole world has shifted now with this recession".
And Babb says technology has changed the carpet industry permanently where many lost jobs won't be coming back.
Officials say IVC is getting significant incentives, including millions of dollars in property tax breaks and job credits from local and state officials.
Babb says going forward, Whitfield County officials are ready to attract more diverse business to the area.