Bob Hughes, the long-time president of the Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce, has been appointed to serve on the Joint Development Authority (JDA), a four-county board tasked with overseeing the development of Stanton Springs Industrial Park, which currently boasts of historic multibillion investments.
After Alan Verner, a founding member of the JDA who served for nearly 25 years, retired last month, the Morgan County Board of Commissioners was tasked with appointing a new member to represent Morgan County on the board. County Commissioner Andy Ainslie currently sits on the JDA and now Hughes will join him to represent the county as the board steers Stanton Springs Industrial Park into a lucrative future.
“Alan Verner will be a tough act to follow, but I will do my best to look after the interests of Morgan County citizens,” said Hughes after his appointment last Tuesday, Sept. 21. The Morgan County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint Hughes.
Ainslie nominated Hughes for the position, noting his extensive economic development background and regular attendance and involvement with the JDA specifically for years.
According to Hughes, he will work to ensure Stanton Springs continues to be a high-paying job creator and tax revenue generator.
“The JDA’s primary responsibility is to help provide quality job opportunities for those in our region and to provide tax income for the four counties. I will try to continue the fine work Alan has set in motion.”
Hughes has made economic development his life’s work. According to his biography for Georgia’s Innovative Crescent, a board on which Hughes serves as one of 15 economic development experts, Hughes has spent decades fostering conditions across multiple disciplines and organizations to enhance economic development in the region. In addition to serving as the President and Economic Development Director for the Madison-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, Hughes is “active in the community serving on the Development Authority of Morgan County, the Morgan Memorial Healthcare Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Morgan County High School College and Career Academy and the Workforce Development Board for the Northeast Georgia Region. He also serves on the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives...Prior to joining the Chamber in 2006, Bob spent 36 years with a major electric utility in the area of Economic Development, Wholesale Power Sales, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs at both the State and Federal level.”
The JDA is comprised of Morgan, Jasper, Walton and Newton counties, with two appointed members from each county. Stanton Springs Industrial Park is currently home to Takeda, a $1.2 billion biopharmaceutical company, a $14 million Bioscience Training Center and a new Facebook data center. The first phase of Facebook is estimated to cost $750 million. Later phases could cost up to $42 billion over the next two decades. Another development is on the horizon, after the JDA sold the last of the developable land to “Baymare,” which is widely believed to be a pseudonym for Facebook. Baymare has also secured bonds through the JDA for up to $42 billion over the next two decades to develop the burgeoning industry. But The JDA isn’t finished yet, recently buying land north of I-20 to market to other big industries.