Named executive editor of The Augusta Chronicle in March 2009. Previously was executive editor of The Times in Shreveport, La., for five years and managing editor for four. Started professional career as a staff photographer with the Knoxville Journal in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1987. Worked in different roles at several newspapers on the East Coast. Recently elected to the Associated Press Managing Editors board of directors after efforts helping coordinate convention events and will serve as program chair for the 2010 convention.
Posted August 13, 2009 04:12 pm - Updated August 13, 2009 08:05 pm

Linking up progress on the TEE

Billions of dollars are coming into the regional economy now and for the foreseeable future.

Most of the money is coming as project work for new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. Major progress to happen by 2011 and a new reactor could be online by 2016. The Shaw Group is doing site preparation work.

The size of the Chronicle headline on the June project update doesn’t match the promise held for the region.

The site is less than an hour from downtown Augusta If you are thinking of places to live, eat and play, this is not the only project that will bode well for our communities’ economies.

Local commercial real estate broker David Penix pushed an e-mail encouraging all of us to talk up the impact of the economic news headlining in The Augusta Chronicle.

He did this inspired by worries about the failures surrounding progress on the much-needed trade, exhibition and event center and possible loss of the Hyatt hotel project. He is right when he says economic projections underline the need for some time. The community, by-and-large, voted for and agrees it needs to be.

It is a shame – headed to travesty – that petty politics hold the TEE project hostage. Let’s not kid ourselves that voting lines are drawn simply about ballooning costs.

Doing what is right by the voters shouldn’t be an issue blocked by personal grudges and gamesmanship. The TEE Center project  should be judged on its own merits, the future it serves and a location that makes sense.

Mr. Penix listed Plant Vogtle, Savannah River Site and our Medical community as reasons to see progress. They are evidence of our solid structure and growth. In his e-mail he underlines large investments.

Roughly another billion feeds work at the SRS cleanup and speeding up the Mixed Oxide Facility launch set for 2014. This is ‘now’ money developing a community of skilled labor More nuke jobs are on the horizon. for years to come. People in sunsetting stimulus jobs are likely to find additional work in new projects and community growth fueled by all of this.

We shouldn’t forget the constant and growing impact of our medical community pumpinginto the community annually, hundreds of millions of dollars and possibly billions - hard to count. While eyes are on Medical College of Georgia expansion in Athens, bricks and mortar at  MCG expansions here move forward: School of Dentistry and  new student housing. Doctors Hospital cut a ribbon on a new unit and other area hospitals are making improvements. Also, Augusta hospitals recently put $300 million into construction and renovation.

We can add $500 million in projects at Fort Gordon and thousands of jobs there to the list of goings on.

Thank you Mr. Penix for reminding us. The commission has important economic development work that should be about debating the merits of the project and longterm needs for the community and less about “what do I get.”

You get a community that grows jobs and opportunity.