those that make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder, ‘What the heck happened?’”
“I’m so happy to live in a town like Rome that makes things happen,” Lewis told nearly 400 Rome business leaders Thursday night at the chamber’s 101st annual meeting.
As Greg Sumner surrendered the gavel to Lewis he proudly proclaimed himself to be a graduate of the Al Hodge school of economic development.
Sumner paid tribute to officials at the chamber, Floyd County and city of Rome government, calling them a triangle of cooperation. “These are the people who truly work tirelessly day in and day out,” said Sumner.
It wasn’t always that way, as keynote speaker J. Mac Holladay of Market Street Services reminded the huge crowd at The Forum.
When Market Street Services came to Rome in 1997 to help in the development of the Rome-Floyd County 20/20 plan, Holladay said, “The culture was hostile. There were conflicts everywhere. You have worked and worked and worked for 15 years, and you have changed this place.”
Fast-forward 15 years, and Holladay told the audience that he sees a full partnership in Rome.
“You have outperformed the rest of Georgia,” he said. “You are retaining jobs in a time of difficulty.”
Sumner told the crowd that during 2011 Rome and Floyd County were able to generate $181.5 million in corporate investment that will lead to the creation of 958 jobs.
Holladay made a strong point of reminding the audience that economic development was all about challenging the status quo on a daily basis, and as he flashed a slide of his own grandchild on the big screens he said, “It’s not about us, it’s about them.”
Jay DeVille’s Right at Home of Northwest Georgia, 217 E. First St., was named Small Business of the Year by the chamber.
The home health agency has grown from one employee to the equivalent of 48 full-time employees in just seven years.
The other finalists for Small Business of the Year were Great Harvest Bread Co., Knight’s Jewelers, LaScala, Lavender Mountain Hardware, Lewis Chemical Co., River City Bank and ServiceMaster by Twins.
Zach Green, a former financial consultant for Edward Jones Investments who recently took a new position with Ball Container Corp., was honored as the chamber’s Ambassador of the Year. Green was one of the leaders of the chamber’s membership drive in 2011.
Harry Brock, Appraisal Associates of Rome and chairman of the chamber board of directors in 2010, was chosen to receive the Wesley Johnson Leadership Award.