The Clayton Tribune
February 9, 2017
By Tommy Culkin
Carol Jackson, associate vice president for economic development at North Georgia Technical College, spoke to the Development Authority of Rabun County on Monday about a grant the college recently applied for designed to improve the workforce of Rabun and Towns counties.
RABUN GAP — North Georgia Technical College has identified Rabun County as a region in need of assistance, so the school has applied for a grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help the county grow financially.
Carol Jackson, the associate vice president for economic development at North Georgia Tech, told the Development Authority of Rabun County on Monday that the college looked for the two counties in the area with the lowest per capita income and the highest per capita unemployment rate, and identified Rabun and Towns as the counties most in need.
If North Georgia Tech receives the grant, which is worth approximately $50,000, it will provide assistance to small local businesses with 50 or less employees earning a gross income of less than $1 million.
North Georgia Tech would not directly give money to the qualifying business owners, but would train them in various ways, including teaching them how to write a business plan, how to create a strategic plan, how to choose an accounting service and more.
Jackson said the school will also work with the business owners on soft skills, or interpersonal skills and attributes that help people work well with others.
DARC Chairman Claude Dillard noted there are several businesses in Rabun County that meet the requirements of employees and gross income, and asked how North Georgia Tech would select which businesses it will assist. Jackson answered that she expects the college to be able to help all that qualify. However, if the school cannot assist every business, she said there would probably be an application process.
“We want anyone who wants help to be able to get it,” Jackson said.
After the meeting, Jackson noted the similarities between this potential program and the Career, Technical and Agricultural Education program in Rabun County Public Schools, a cooperative effort with North Georgia Tech.
“We just want to work with the schools and work with (Rabun County Schools Superintendent Melissa Williams), who is phenomenal (and) has invited us to do a lot of things in the schools,” Jackson said. “She’s interested in the soft skills part of it.”
Jackson said the college should find out if they received the grant around April 1.
“The whole purpose of this whole thing is to create or save jobs,” she said.
In other business, DARC Economic Development Manager Ryan Thornton gave an update on the process of bringing Jackson Paper Manufacturing Co. to the Rabun Business Park. “That continues along favorably,” Thornton said. “We had a recent phone conversation on Jan. 30, and we think things look positive.”