By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer
Andy Ainslie, chairman of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC), delivered a brief report to the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission (NEGRC), a twelve-county board representing the interests of the Northeast Georgian Region, to share some of the ongoing progress and developments of Morgan County on Thursday, November 20. According to Ainslie, Morgan County is a growing and thriving community, with a bright future ahead. “There is a lot happening in our county,” said Ainslie. “We’ve seen plenty of growth and opportunity.” From improving economic developments to savvy government spending to cultural appreciation, Ainslie highlighted the best developments currently underway in and around Morgan County. Ainslie was proudest of the recent expansion of the Madison branch of Mannington Mills, a textile flooring company, which will yield a total of 500 jobs, 400 of which were created this year alone. “This makes Mannington Mills the largest employer in Morgan County,” said Ainslie. “It’s a great thing for our community.” Ainslie also noted the coming BioScience Training Center in Social Circle currently being built in conjunction with Baxter International, a global manufacturer of plasma-based healthcare treatments, will reap huge economic benefits for the area. The benefits to Morgan County, as well as surrounding counties, are two-fold. Ainslie estimated that the construction process has created thousands of construction jobs for locals, revealing that by December 31, 2014, over 6,000 construction workers will have been employed for the project. Once the Training Facility is up and running, projected to be in mid-2015, the educational and job opportunities available to Morgan County residents will be significant. “We have seen a tremendous amount of people pass through this project in construction and in a short time in the future, I believe we will start to see the benefits of this project in our community,” said Ainslie. Ainslie also shared the BOC’s recent decision to lease heavy equipment and farm equipment instead of owning it outright and being responsible for maintenance and replacement, which can be unexpected and costly. “We approved this last Tuesday and it will work very well for us,” said Ainslie. The BOC approved a four-year lease agreement that will give the county at least 18 brand new pieces of heavy equipment and farm equipment, which will include street paving machines and tractors. Ainslie encouraged the other county representatives present to reach out to Morgan County Manager Michael Lamar to investigate leasing equipment for their own communities. “It is sure to save us money and be far more efficient,” said Ainslie. “It’s a good deal. It’s really the way to go.” Ainslie ended his talk about praising the cultural and historical appreciation of Morgan County. Ainslie reported that hundreds of people attended the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center’s historical exploration of General Sherman’s infamous “March to the Sea” last Sunday. “We take pride in our history,” said Ainslie. “It was a wonderful event and just one of many wonderful events you can find to do when you come to Morgan County.” Over the next two years, the NEGRC, will partner with each county to review and develop each community’s comprehensive plan. Morgan County is slated for their review sometime during the fiscal year of 2016.