Published Thursday, July 07, 2011

Wright: Tourists come here, leave money, go home

By Marianne Thomasson

The Newnan Times-Herald

"The Chattahoochee Bend State Park will increase our tourism from all over the Southeast," said Greg Wright, president of the Coweta County Development for two years.

Wright updated the White Oak Golden K Kiwanis Club on local industrial growth during a recent meeting at Sprayberry's on Bullsboro.

Tourism is increasing also because the county's visitors center has been moved from close to I-85 to the historic courthouse in downtown Newnan, he said. "People were coming to Coweta County, but not necessarily to the Welcome Center. Now they're getting information about things to see, leaving money here and going back to where they live," he said.

"The film and video industry can be a little frustrating when roads are closed, but then you get the 'Where did they film?' tourists.

"In business, Yamaha is moving all of their ATV and golf cart production from Japan to Newnan. Construction is continuing on the Piedmont Newnan Hospital, which will have 136 beds. They get the keys in February. More medical office buildings are planned as we continue to move forward as a community with healthcare alternatives," Wright said.

"The Cancer Treatment Centers of America will have 50 beds and 212,000 square feet. Two-thirds of the patients will come from out of the state of Georgia."

Speaking on the quality of the local workforce, he said, "We're working with West Georgia Tech on the quality and quantity workforce industries need. Incentives to attract industries are important, but the workforce is more important down the road.

"We have coupled with the Central Educational Center, Mercer University, Brewton Parker and University of West Georgia, promoting lifelong learning," he said.

"The Newnan-Coweta Airport is a hidden gem. Falcon Aviation has moved in, increasing traffic. The busiest time is when Richie Brothers has an auction for heavy equipment," Wright continued.

"More and more companies are using brokers or consultants and project managers to help them locate or relocate. This is an exciting time for us. We have companies adding jobs, but they're not telling anybody because they don't want the competition to know they're growing," he said, "and statistics show more jobs are created by existing companies growing over new companies."

"The hospital and cancer treatment center will create 500 new jobs over the next five years," he said.

Special guests at the Kiwanis meeting were Wright's parents, Wilma and Dan Wright. Dan is a long-time Kiwanian.

In other Kiwanis news, Salvation Army Director Stephanie Mays presented the club with the "Big Bell" award for collecting the most money ($9,000) during the Red Kettle Drive. Sam Phillips collected the most at $2,927 and Frank Reese collected the second most at $1,338. The goal for this years was $25,000, Mays said, but $38,972.32 was collected by 63 volunteers county-wide.

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