Larry Brooks, Walker County Development Authority executive director, has become the first professional to be certified in economic development by the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government.
Mr. Brooks received recognition over the weekend for completing 60 hours of rigorous training in economic development financing, tax incentives, workforce development and other components necessary to recruit business. The training is already proving valuable, as several large scale employers have expressed interest in locating in Walker County, said officials.
"Encouraging new investment into our community is never an easy task, as there is so much competition, both locally and state-wide," said Mr. Brooks. "However with the resources gained through this certification process, we as a community can feel confident that we are now on a level playing field with other Georgia communities. Our authority now has a firm grasp on the incentives, programs, and relationships from differing agencies across the state, which can make the difference when encouraging a company to invest in Walker County."
Over the past nine years, Mr. Brooks had a hand in recruiting Nissin Brake, Audia International, Labrie Enviroquip, Unique Fabrication and nearly a dozen other companies to Walker County. Those businesses invested over $122 million in the community and created or saved 860 jobs.
Mr. Brooks believes the economic development training he received will also help Walker County grow a more diversified economy. According to the Georgia Department of Labor, the Walker area has a labor force of 196,150 workers. Over 27 percent of all local jobs are in manufacturing.
UGA's Carl Vinson Institute of Government introduced the Georgia Certified Economic Developer program in 2016.