The Augusta Economic Development Authority is adding a staff member to focus on existing industries in Richmond County.
The coordinator will be responsible for addressing company problems, aiding expansion projects, and sharing information about support programs and government initiatives affecting industries in Augusta.
“We need to make sure existing industries is one of our top focuses of the development authority,” said Walter Sprouse, the executive director.
Three employees, including Sprouse, make up the authority’s staff. Project manager Robbie Bennett’s job is focused on recruiting new companies to Augusta, and operations manager Laurie Davis’ duties pertain to finances, Sprouse said.
Other state development authorities with populations similar to Richmond County vary in staff size.
The Savannah Economic Development Authority, which focuses on both retail and industries, has 14 employees listed on its Web site. The Athens-Clarke County Economic Development Foundation, however, only has two employees, according to its Web site.
Likewise, there are only two employees in the Development Authority of Columbia County, which is searching for a new executive director to hire by March.
Adding an employee to the Augusta authority’s team is something Sprouse planned in last year’s budget, but certain “new” projects, such as securing a Starbucks plant, took precedence, he said.
“It’s probably a little past time to do it,” Sprouse said.
The position is necessary to ensure that existing companies feel appreciated and are aware of available incentives, such as state tax credits for expansion projects, Sprouse said.
“We want to do what we can to help them grow,” he said.
The application deadline is Feb. 11, and Sprouse hopes to hire someone by the end of the month.
With 10 résumés received, Sprouse said he is encouraged by the application pool.
An ideal candidate would have experience working with existing industries, he said, but strong communication skills are imperative for the position.
“No matter who they talk to, they’re going to have to be communicative,” Sprouse said.