In The News

Triumph Aerostructures: Large Manufacturer of the Year

Triumph-2015-Lg-Mfgr-of-Year-Award-24Triumph Aerostructures—Vought Aircraft Division, based in Milledgeville, was named the 2015 Georgia Large Manufacturer of the Year at the annual Manufacturer’s Appreciation Week Governor’s Awards Luncheon in Atlanta. This event, co-hosted by the Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Economic Development, recognizes top manufacturers across the state based on economic impact, corporate responsibility, and workforce excellence. Triumph was nominated for this award by Central Georgia Technical College.

Fechner remarked in front of a crowd of Georgia manufacturers and state officials gathered at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta for the Governor’s Awards Luncheon, “On behalf of 13,000 Triumph employees across the United States and the world at 67 locations, and especially the 715 employees in Milledgeville, thank you for this honor,” said Merlin Fechner, president of Triumph Aerostructures—Vought Aircraft Division. “We truly consider it an honor and a privilege to accept this prestigious award. We have some of the best employees and it’s demonstrated every day in everything we do. This award truly belongs to them.”

In their over 40 years of operation in Milledgeville, Triumph has added over $5.2 billion to the local economy, averaging a $148.3 million economic impact annually. Even during the most recent economic downturn among soaring unemployment, Triumph was able to add over 375 jobs.

Triumph believes in being a good corporate citizen and have demonstrated their commitment by donating time and resources to the local community, including sponsorship of various Chamber and Development Authority events and by volunteering many hours with local non-profit organizations such as United Way, Relay for Life, Special Olympics, the American Red Cross, and the Chard Wray Food Pantry.

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Milledgeville Ranked Nationally as a Top Micropolitan

In a recent release published by Site Magazine, Milledgeville-Baldwin County made the list of nationally ranked Top Micropolitans of 2014, determined by number of new and expanded corporate facility projects, ranked 74 out of 576 micropolitans in the nation.

“We are committed to the expansion of local business and industry and are proud of the two expansions that occurred in 2014,” says Matt Poyner, executive director of the Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville and Baldwin County (DAMBC). “Our approach to economic development is twofold. We facilitate the success, growth, and retention of local companies by providing services, solutions, and support to meet their needs. Additionally, we focus on recruiting new business and industry which creates local jobs and expands our local economic base.”

The Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville & Baldwin County (DAMBC), jointly funded by both the City and County, is tasked with recruiting new companies as well as working with the existing businesses in the community to grow primary jobs and investment.

Development Authority Website Traffic on the Rise

MILLEDGEVILLE — By the time an industrial site consultant reaches Milledgeville, the community has already survived an in-depth vetting process. Matt Poyner, executive director of The Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville and Baldwin County (DAMBC), has named Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Texas as some of the top states looking at Baldwin County. “That’s where the majority of these major site consultants work,” he said. “It lends me to think we are doing something right because our activity has increased from some of these major U.S. firms, as well as international locations.”

Locally-based Goebel Media Group started web development upgrades in summer 2012 shortly after Poyner became the executive director. According to Poyner, “It took four or five months to get it up and running and the site is top-notch.” Recent review of the site by a marketing representative evaluated it as standing tall among similar sites. “It is important to know that industry professionals identify our site as providing current, relevant data to site visitors,” he said.

For prospective companies utilizing online resources, the Internet can be a discouraging or advantageous primary investigative tool. The DAMBC puts considerable time and effort into the website as a tool to showcase the attributes of Milledgeville to business and industry. Web analytics from developmilledgeville.com show a 62 percent page view increase over first quarter 2013 numbers. The DAMBC can use web analytic information to tailor recruiting for specific national and international firms.

The development authority’s project load has increased dramatically. The state economic development connections are taking notice of Milledgeville’s potential, sending target manufacturing, aerospace, logistics, shared services and high water user companies to the community by way a Request for Information (RFI). Executive Director Poyner also points out, “By the time we are notified of a project, our community has been vetted multiple times through a process matching sites to project specifications. When we get an RFI, we’re one of the final candidates remaining of about 100 communities, or more, initially considered. That’s why it is important to have a good site with relevant information that encourages increased traffic and length of time on our site. I’m proud of where we are.”

Milledgeville-Baldwin County served as a host community March 18 for the annual International VIP tour coordinated by the Georgia Department of Economic Development. This was the first time in 29 years that Milledgeville made the tour. The hospitality and energetic community blew away 33 consulates representing countries in Europe, Asia, Canada, Africa and Mexico. “People getting their feet in Milledgeville is what we need,” Poyner said. “That’s starting to take off for us and we are in the conversation.” Recent Business Retention and Expansion Program (BREP) surveys showed current industries planned expansions and felt positive about Baldwin County operations. “It’s comprehensive service from start to finish. We want to provide the tools and support businesses need to grow and achieve success.” Poyner said.

Poyner urges the community to stay tuned for an upcoming uniquely innovative website upgrade.

Communiversity on stand by

The former Shaw Building patiently awaits an exciting communiversity rebirth.

While the final lease-purchase contract hasn’t received City of Milledgeville signatures to move forward, leadership behind the conceptual community-based public-private partnership encouraging learning, entrepreneurism and economic development are hard at work.

Georgia College Associate Professor of Marketing Dr. Renée J. Fontenot said organizational action began months ago.

“We’ve been sitting on the edge of our seats with baited anticipation,” Fontenot said. “In working towards that, we have a number of things in place. We are ready to go.”

The board is developing by-laws and most notably, changing the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Communiversity name for branding purposes.

“It’s a mouthful and the acronym gets confusing because there are so many other Milledgeville-Baldwin type of groups,” Fontenot said.

Going forward the project will be known as Summit Communiversity.

“Once we formerly sign the papers with the city, we will begin rebranding everything,” the communiversity board member said.

The National Association of Communiversities (NAC) officially launched Sept. 25, 2013 at Featherbone Communiversity of Gainesville, Ga., according to Gus Whalen, representing the Warren Featherbone Foundation.

The NAC is an affiliation of communiversities that operate independently but have formalized collaborative Declarations of Interdependence. Milledgeville’s Summit Communiversity signed on with four others.

Co-founders of the association are Featherbone, Bonner County Communiversity of Sandpoint, Idaho, Chaffey College of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. and Community Futures Boundary, Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada.

This was good news for the future of a local educational and innovation center. Members share ideas and as a whole can grab more grant funds.

Joining the association is conceptual early planning, according to Fontenot.

Gainesville’s Featherbone Communiversity is the Milledgeville blueprint.

The communiversity board has been working with the NAC “quite closely” since last fall. Fontenot said the NAC looks to add collaborative members.

“Our group will attend the National Association meeting in July up in Sandpoint,” she said. “We expect there will be seven members at that meeting.”

Since May 2013, the City of Milledgeville and Solar Zones, LLC. began public-private negotiations for the repurposing of the old Shaw Building as the communiversity hub.

The city entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), assigning the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Development Authority as the Shaw lease conduit Oct. 4 of last year because the city can’t legally lease the building.

Solar Zones Chairman David Sinclair is supposed to lease-purchase the 93,000 square foot building for $450,000. The communiversity will form as a 501(c)(3).

The Development Authority settled initial questions about the MOU and sublease agreement before unanimously approving it in December.

Development Authority Executive Director Matt Poyner said the authority bears no liability, but instead will simply act as a conduit for the transaction.

In December, Poyner said Solar Zones would supply a quarterly capital investment summary to the authority and the city. Dollar points go toward the purchase price as improvements are made basically constituting as the rent.

The proposed lease runs for two years.

Solar Zones is anxious to begin Phase 1 de-industrialization enabling work at Shaw.

Projected at three months this includes removal of major ceiling ductwork previously installed for Shaw manufacturing, roof cooling towers and other equipment.

Sinclair wants Shaw as energy efficient as possible by installing a 1-megawatt solar panel system on the cleared roof later in the process.

The Shaw Building’s 93,000 square feet could harbor a convention center, manufacturing facilities, classrooms, business incubation space, art studio and tech hub to name a few proposals.

Committed parties include the Milledgeville Players, the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority, Central Georgia Technical College, the Baldwin Investment group and Perpetual Motion, LLC. The Players and Perpetual Motion already have significant funds allotted for the venture project.

Fontenot said more organizations want in.

Another option might utilize college talent. Fontenot said the winner of an upcoming middle Georgia six-school student business plan competition featuring Georgia College and the College Hill Alliance would award $10,000 to the winners.

“I’m hoping it’s one of ours to implement here in Milledgeville. If that is the case and it’s an appropriate plan, we are willing to allow space in the communiversity for them to get started,” she said.

Source: Union Recorder

Invest in the future of Milledgeville and Baldwin County with your voice

Recent months have presented local residents a unique opportunity to share their thoughts on their community and the direction they would like to see the community take in the future.

Key local entities, including the Baldwin County Board of Education, the Chamber of Commerce and the Development Authority, are in the midst of strategic planning phases in an effort to formulate a new community vision and strategic plan.

The local Chamber and Development Authority have a partnership with other key stakeholders, including local governing bodies, colleges and the hospital, to develop a new strategic plan for the community.

One part of this process involves community feedback. Local residents can assist in this part by sharing their thoughts online. An online survey is available for the community to provide insight into what local residents think and how they view the community in which they live. Take a few minutes to weigh and help formulate a new vision for Baldwin County’s future. This is a chance for local residents to have a greater voice in where Baldwin County progresses to over the course of the next few years. It’s a chance to gauge what locals think is important and what they think should be areas of focus for the future.

The online survey, which launched Monday morning, can be found on the Chamber’s website at www.milledgevillega.com. Survey respondents also have a chance to enter to win one of five $50 gift certificates to local Chamber businesses.

The survey will be available for the public’s input over the next three weeks.

For more information about the strategic plan or the survey call the Chamber at 478-453-9311.

Source: Union Recorder