Ask and you shall receive.
A group of local residents asked to be taken on a tour of the Georgia Port Authority and the Bryan County Interstate Centre, and they were recently chauffeured out to both sites with members of the county Development Authority.
"They approached me and asked me to come to one of their meetings and talk a little bit more about what we’ve been doing with the Development Authority," said DA Chairman Sean Register. "They’re proud of what we’re doing bringing jobs in…it’s a good thing when citizens come to us and say they like what we’re doing, can they see it up close."
The group includes roughly 20 retired businessmen, who have lived in the region their whole lives, who meet for a weekly "breakfast club."
Tommy Darieng, who started the group, said they started meeting somewhere around 12 years ago and discuss a wide range of topics. Register said Darieng invited him to speak to the group one morning about the Development Authority and what they’ve been working on, and the group "liked hearing the good things we’re doing," he said.
Darieng said he’s told the DA how much he appreciates what they’re doing, and thought the rest of the "breakfast club" would enjoy learning more.
"It’s good to see it," he said. "So many people don’t really know what’s happening with it and criticize it…It’s good to educate the people with what’s going on and what’s happening at the industrial park. I’m really very proud of it."
While Darieng said the tour of the Interstate Centre was his fourth time visiting it, he’d never had anyone to explain it like members of the DA did. In addition to Register, DA board members Ted Akins and Frank DuBose also helped guide the tour.
"I’m proud of it and I want people to know about it," Darieng said. "We’ve got a lot of new people here (in Richmond Hill) and I want them to know there’s something up there for them to see that concerns them. I think it’s great."
Stacy Watson, manager of Economic and Industrial Development with the Georgia Port Authority who is also a Bryan County resident, gave the other part of the tour in Garden City.
Watson said he’s been working closely with DA Executive Director Jean Bacon and pointed out Bryan County companies Oneida, Oracal and Kawasaki are "all big port users."
"This is a state of the art, world class terminal in your back yard," he said.
Watson also noted the Port Authority has taken an initiative with all the state’s Development Authorities along interstate corridors that touch their terminals, including I-16.
"We’re promoting your industrial park as a way to increase the port usage," he explained.
Register said if there are other residents in Bryan County who are interested in getting a DA-guided tour of the Interstate Centre, he can be reached at 727-5343.