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Cornelia Walker Publisher
Macon-Bibb County Industrial
Authority Working On Increasing Macon Businesses

by Clarence Thomas, Jr.


Given its track record, one of the most important gears in Macon's economic engine has to be the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority. And do they have the proof to back up this assertion. Check the facts. The authority has generated $1.2 billion in new investment committed by nine industrial projects; expended $12,470,797 on economic development in land, infrastructure, incentives and other areas; and created and/or retained 1,803 jobs in those nine industrial projects mentioned previously. This is what MBCIA Chairman Cliffard Whitby – appointed by former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis in 2007 and reappointed by Mayor Robert Reichert in 2012 - defines as success. "The Industrial Authority is the entity that is entrusted with deciding what companies we want to devote our community resources to in order to bring jobs to Macon-Bibb," said the Macon native recently. "You grow a community by being smart and using those dollars intelligently and wisely."
As important as the Industrial Authority is however, most residents don't know its role or rights. First of all, the Industrial Authority is a constitutionally bound entity created in 1962 by Georgia legislators. Secondly it is the legal arm of the consolidated government that incentivizes businesses committed to starting or relocating to Macon-Bibb. And lastly while it acts on behalf of the consolidated government, the board is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the board of commissioners. The board operates with the autonomy of a constitutional body.

Six members sit on the Industrial Authority's board including Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert. He says the role of the Industrial Authority is critical to the success of Macon-Bibb. Reichert pointed out that it (the Industrial Authority) has guided and secured nearly every major industrial and corporate location and expansion in this community for more than fifty years. The Industrial Authority is not an island though. Partnerships with the Macon-Bibb Consolidated Government, Macon Water Authority, the Bibb County Board of Education and the Macon Economic Development Commission (MEDC) are critical to its success and contribute greatly to economic outcomes says Whitby.

In the past five years alone the Industrial Authority assisted Graphic Packaging International through a $125 million plus investment, with preserving the viability of its plant long-term as it maintains employment levels. The authority helped First Quality Baby Products save 300 jobs with a $45-milliondollar investment. Another $45-million-dollar investment brought 330 new jobs to Macon at the Tractor Supply Company. After Pactiv LLC burned, the Industrial Authority helped to save 184 jobs to the tune of $45 million as well. A $60 million investment at First Quality Packing Solutions created 115 jobs. Boeing saved 200 jobs and will grow more because of a $80-million-dollar investment. And of course, one of the Industrial Authority’s biggest economic achievements in recent years -- Kumho Tire Company -- a $425 million-dollar addition to Macon-Bibb that brought with it nearly 425 jobs.
Reichert says that without the Industrial Authority serving as the gatekeeper of resources and tools used to incentivize and encourage companies to locate and expand facilities, the county’s economic landscape would be far different. "Without the Authority, the necessary legal mechanisms to provide the incentives, guidance, and leadership for economic development would not be in place," he insists. "Without the Authority, none of these accomplishments would have been achieved, and indeed, other businesses and jobs may have left our community." His view underscores the Authority’s significance to Maria Creighton, Plant Director of Mr. Chips. She manages the pickle processing plant and says the Industrial Authority provided the leadership she needed two years ago when setting up shop in Macon. Creighton says it saved the company money and freed her up to take care of the daily tasks at hand. "It's one thing when you have the resources, but when you don't, the Industrial Authority has in place what you need to get you where you are going," she said. "They are there to help."

Whitby sounds excited about the work the Industrial Authority is doing for the community when talking to him. He envisions it doing even more. His can do spirit and self-proclaimed tenacity has proven a good fit the last nine years and positioned the Authority to bring even more business to Macon-Bibb through incentives like tax abatements. For instance, this past November, the Macon-Bibb consolidated government and the Bibb County Board of Education received approximately $275,000.00 as a direct result of the work of the MBCIA. In 2016, the approximate payment could exceed $300,000.00. Whitby says the accomplishments are proof positive that the Authority is working hard to ensure that all county related tax matters are executed correctly. "I'm optimistic about the future of our community," said Whiby, "Working together we can be the community we aspire to be."

Find out more about the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority by calling 478.488.8101 or visiting their website at www.mbcia.com.

 

© Copyright 2016 by The Middle Georgia Informer
P.O. Box 446, Macon, • GA 31202 * Ofc:  478-745-7265 * Email: gainformer@yahoo.com

 

Gwenette Westbrooks
Cliffard Whitby
MBCIA Chairman