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DA joins regional alliance

There’s a new alliance in town.

The new I-16 Corridor Alliance group, aimed at business marketing at its best, is just one new effort the Development Authority is making to get the word out about why Bryan County is the place for companies to be.

"In an effort to grow business along the I-16 corridor and to foster the relationship with the Georgia Ports, Economic Development Directors and Chamber, leaders from the 12 counties along the I-16 corridor have formed the I-16 Corridor Alliance," said a recent alliance press release.

The counties include Bryan as well as Bibb, Twiggs, Wilkinson, Bleckley, Laurens, Treutlen, Emanuel, Candler, Bulloch, Effingham and Chatham. Development Authority Project Coordinator Gwen Strickland is serving as the local representative for the group.

"Everyone’s pushing (the I-16 corridor)," Strickland said, noting Bryan County resident Stacy Watson was also at the meeting.

Watson works at the Georgia Ports Authority and recently gave a tour of the Garden City port, followed by a DA tour of the Interstate Centre, to a group of local residents.

"Stacy Watson talked about the Bryan County tour at the corridor meeting and encouraged local officials from the region to consider doing it," Strickland said. "We will have (the I-16 corridor) meetings at different places each month. One month, I’d like it to be here to show them what we’ve got."

The focus of the alliance will be "cooperative marketing of the interstate to groups such as the utility company project managers, state economic development departments and site procurement associations," the release explained.

One of the first projects will involve the construction of a website that will link to as many sites as possible in order to achieve maximum marketing value.

That’s good timing for the local DA, because a new website is currently in the making.

"The new website should be up in the November/December timeframe and that will put us ready to put together a new marketing campaign in January," DA Secretary Ted Akins said, noting Strickland has been doing the web work. "We’re trying to do it as cheaply as we can and that takes a little more time."

Strickland said there is a lot of information updating that needs to be done, as working all the new information into a web redesign.

DA Chairman Sean Register said the recent community tour of the port and Interstate Centre is another way to market what the county has to offer.

"I really encourage any taxpaying resident in Bryan County to come and take a tour. We are always happy to provide that," Register said. "It’s a good opportunity to show people in Bryan County what’s actually going on and it’s a good feeling when they come up here and see the Interstate Centre and say they like what we’re doing."

County Administrator Phil Jones added when he takes visitors on tours of the county, he usually includes a drive through the industrial park.

"All that’s good exposure and so many people don’t have a clue what’s going on," Jones said, noting he gave two tours last week. "It’s interesting to see that some people are taking the time to come look."

Marketing committee member Linda Barker said they have created marketing pieces for local publications to illustrate the park’s incentives and, when discussion about next year’s Annual Legislative Reception was raised, Barker suggested hosting another event similar to the industrial park ribbon cutting.

"The reception is about meeting our state legislators. Instead, why don’t we invite them to come here to see what we have in Bryan County, without having to travel to Atlanta," she said.

The board tabled further discussion about attending the reception until their September meeting.

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