Old hand in economic development comes on board as new Macon director

Macon County has turned to veteran lawmaker and businessman Tommy Jenkins of Franklin to head local economic development efforts.

Jenkins, who previously chaired the regional economic group Advantage West and served stints in both the state House and Senate, will receive $5,000 a month for eight months from Macon County. The contract could be renewed after that, County Manager Jack Horton said.

Jenkins will receive an additional $100 a month to pay for cell phone and technology usage.

Macon County, like every county in the region, is suffering from the poor economic conditions, Jenkins said Monday. Jenkins replaces Economic Development Director Trevor Dalton, who resigned in September.

But, “though there are a lot of challenges, there are also some opportunities,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins cited Macon County’s strong retail, technology, banking and medical sectors: in technology, Franklin headquarters Drake Software and works with BalsamWest; in banking, Nantahala Bank and Macon Bank are both based in Franklin.

Jenkins indicated that Macon County could build on these strengths, and help compensate for the devastation the economy has wreaked on the construction and real estate sectors.

Horton said Macon County needs to maintain a strong EDC focus to stay adequately positioned on the economic front, and not just drop efforts because times are tough.

“Whether you are being successful or not, you have to continue to be competitive,” Horton said. “We need to be prepared.”

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