Georgia Connector Magazine Spring 2011 : Page 12

County Profile Newton Newton Poised for Growth A Big Town Strategy with a Hometown Feel Story by Pamela Consuegra O Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority, and the Cities of riginally a sawmill, cotton farming, and textile Covington, Mansfi eld, Newborn, Oxford, and Porterdale as well as community, Newton County has grown other public and private authority leaders. signifi cantly from its humble beginnings as “ ese meetings give political alignment amongst the decision government offi cials and citizens prepare for makers,” comments Hall. “It’s important for everyone to know that the projected twenty thousand plus citizens es-conversations are happening all the time between city and county timated to call Newton County their home in 2012. Growth is not leaders.” Quarterly industry council meetings are also held allowing a question for the area; how much growth, how it will impact the for industry leaders to discuss best practices and business trends for local business managers. county, and how fast it will happen are the topics of discussion. Small businesses that choose to call Newton County their home Included on the Interstate 20 route between Atlanta and also have a myriad of resources at their disposal. e Chamber of Augusta, Newton County has piqued the interest of many Commerce has recently provided small business owners continuing businesses such as Komatsu, Bridgestone Sports, SKC, and education programs such as amazingly enough, Business 101 that included Hollywood fi lm social media information, producers. e budgeting strategies, human county’s offi cials resources best practices, and have taken many business stress management. initiatives to not Following in the footsteps of only keep the current neighboring Rockdale County, industries satisfi ed in 2009 the Newton County with their location, School System announced but also to attract a partnership with Dekalb new companies. Technical College to open the “Newton County Newton College and Career is in a great location Academy, slated to be housed for the distribution on the current campus of of manufactured Newton High School. With goods,” explains this initiative, local high school Chamber of students will be able to earn Commerce President, Hunter Hall. “From Buying Local is an initiative in many communities, not just Newton County. Produce their high school diploma as a Chamber and stands like Ramsey Produce, located on Usher Street in Downtown Covington, offers well as post-secondary credits to use at institutions of higher County standpoint, residents fresh produce choices other than the traditional grocery retail stores. education, not to mention we are interested valuable internship and in the retention of apprenticeship experience the businesses that we already have and the recruitment of new “Not only will the Career Academy be benefi cial to our industries.” community from an economic and industrial standpoint but it Monthly meetings are held by what is known as e Leadership will benefi t our school students,” adds Abigail Coggin, Board of Collaborative, with membership including representatives from Education District 5 representative. “Not all people are meant to the county’s Board of Education, Board of Commissioners, Photo by Dylan Bailey, UGA College of Environment and Design. 12 www.Georgia Connector.com Spring 2011

Newton

Pamela Consuegra

Newton Poised for Growth<br /> <br /> A Big Town Strategy with a Hometown Feel<br /> <br /> Originally a sawmill, cotton farming, and textile community, Newton County has grown significantly from its humble beginnings as government officials and citizens prepare for the projected twenty thousand plus citizens estimated to call Newton County their home in 2012. Growth is not a question for the area; how much growth, how it will impact the county, and how fast it will happen are the topics of discussion.<br /> <br /> Included on the Interstate 20 route between Atlanta and Augusta, Newton County has piqued the interest of many businesses such as Komatsu, Bridgestone Sports, SKC, and amazingly enough, Hollywood film producers. The county’s officials have taken many initiatives to not only keep the current industries satisfied with their location, but also to attract new companies.<br /> <br /> “Newton County is in a great location for the distribution of manufactured goods,” explains Chamber of Commerce President, Hunter Hall. “From a Chamber and County standpoint, we are interested in the retention of the businesses that we already have and the recruitment of new industries.”<br /> <br /> Monthly meetings are held by what is known as e Leadership Collaborative, with membership including representatives from the county’s Board of Education, Board of Commissioners,Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority, and the Cities of Covington, Mansfield, Newborn, Oxford, and Porterdale as well as other public and private authority leaders.<br /> <br /> “ These meetings give political alignment amongst the decision makers,” comments Hall. “It’s important for everyone to know that conversations are happening all the time between city and county leaders.” Quarterly industry council meetings are also held allowing for industry leaders to discuss best practices and business trends for local business managers.<br /> <br /> Small businesses that choose to call Newton County their home also have a myriad of resources at their disposal. e Chamber of Commerce has recently provided small business owners continuing education programs such as Business 101 that included social media information, budgeting strategies, human resources best practices, and business stress management.<br /> <br /> Following in the footsteps of neighboring Rockdale County, in 2009 the Newton County School System announced a partnership with Dekalb Technical College to open the Newton College and Career Academy, slated to be housed on the current campus of Newton High School. With this initiative, local high school students will be able to earn their high school diploma as well as post-secondary credits to use at institutions of higher education, not to mention valuable internship and Apprenticeship experience “Not only will the Career Academy be beneficial to our community from an economic and industrial standpoint but it will benefit our school students,” adds Abigail Coggin, Board of Education District 5 representative. <br /> <br /> “Not all people are meant to Attend a traditional four-year college. The Career Academy will provide a resource to teach trades and skills to those students who choose to enter the workforce right out of high school. Being trained in specific skills will give those students a better opportunity for higher paying jobs offered by our local industries and businesses.”<br /> <br /> Newton County’s Leadership Collaborative has also produced what is known as the 2050 Build-Out Plan that estimates the county’s population to possibly exceed four hundred thousand citizens. The Build-Out Plan focuses mainly on strategizing with local officials on the best ways to manage the proposed future population growth while maintaining sustainability for the area. The Leadership Collaborative meets at the Center for Community Preservation and Planning, a politically neutral gathering place.<br /> <br /> The Build-Out Plan focuses on four main ideals, giving clear direction and a focused understanding to all involved. The four main principles include preserving natural water resources, creating and encouraging communities in order to prevent sprawl, organizing pedestrian and vehicle access allowing communities to be physically connected, and focusing attention on how to best use public investments (such as infrastructure and schools).<br /> <br /> “The 2050 Build-Out Plan is truly a visionary step for our county. When I attend meetings around the state with other county commissioners, it becomes clear that Newton County is ahead of the curve in terms of planning for the future,” explains Newton County Commissioner Nancy Schultz. “During the coming months the plan will be rolled out to the community-at-large via a program entitled Celebrate Our Home. Too often we are bogged down with negative news. is program will remind us to celebrate our assets and energize us to protect them as we plan for the future.”<br /> <br /> Officially formed by the General Assembly in 1821, Newton County has grown not only in number, but also in popularity as one of east Atlanta’s hotspots for tourism. With approximately twelve thousand visitors entering the Newton County Visitor Center yearly, it is hard to overlook the impact that Hollywood has on Covington. Because of the number of films and television series filmed here, many have nicknamed Covington The Hollywood of the South. <br /> <br /> Over seventy-five percent Of visitors that pass through ask specifically for information regarding the filming locations of television series In the Heat of the Night, Dukes of Hazzard, and Vampire Diaries. Loyal fans of Dukes still rally in the Covington Historical Square once a year, proudly displaying their own General Lee’s and other show paraphernalia.<br /> <br /> The Georgia Film, Music, and Digital Entertainment Office (FMDE) named Newton County as one of sixteen counties who have qualified for the Camera Ready program. is distinction allows Newton County helpful access to production companies who are interested in shooting film footage in the area. Because of this label, movie and television producers continue to choose Covington and surrounding communities as their backdrop for filming.<br /> <br /> Covington is not the only community in Newton County with new initiatives and big ideas. The City of Porterdale, also known as Georgia’s Historic Mill Town, has successfully established the Porterdale Mill Lofts, a dual residential and retail restoration of the historic textile mill factory building.<br /> <br /> The City of Oxford, home to Oxford College of Emory University, dedicated the new city hall and community center in August of 2010. e Oxford Lions Club is also host to the county’s Fourth of July parade. is annual event has become a holiday weekend tradition for many Newton County families as well as visitors from neighboring areas.<br /> <br /> Newton County is also well-known for its award-winning recreation department, home of the award winning Turner Lake Complex, providing its citizens with youth, adult, and senior recreational activities. Most recently, the Recreation Commission, along with several civic organizations and private donors, announced its commitment to build the county’s first Miracle League Field, a handicap-accessible baseball field. <br /> <br /> To find out more information about Newton County, please visit www.newtonchamber.com, www.cityofcovington.com, www.newtonrecreation.com, www.thecenter-newton.org

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