The Council for Quality Growth, in partnership with Clayton County and the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, hosted the 2022 State of Clayton County Address on March 16 before a sold-out crowd of more than 350 at the Georgia International Convention Center. Clayton County Chairman Jeffrey E. Turner began his address with a moment of silence for the late Commissioner Sonna Singleton Gregory, who lost her fight to cancer after 15 years of service to Clayton County. Turner highlighted the resilience the county has demonstrated during the pandemic, praising first responders, teachers, essential works, and the entire workforce that kept the community going throughout the challenges of the last two years. He proudly reported that federal relief funding and an award-winning finance department kept the county fiscally sound despite the hardships the pandemic put on the economy.
Chairman Turner emphasized the importance of public safety. “For us to grow,” he said, “we must make sure our business, citizens, and those visiting feel safe as they live, work, and play in our community.” In the last year, Clayton County offered various incentives and a 10% pay increase to all of its public safety officers.
Adding to a long list of accomplishments in 2021, Turner listed the newly created SPLOST-funded facilities in the County, including the Sonna Singleton Gregory Senior Center, the Flint River Intergenerational Center, a new library, a parks and recreation center, and even a splash park opening this Memorial Day weekend. Clayton is one of only two Georgia counties with Nationally Accredited senior centers. Turner also took time to thank the hardworking health centers in Clayton – Kaiser Permanente and Southern Regional Hospital – for their excellence in exceeding the changing needs of the community.
Looking ahead, Chairman Turner stressed the need to invest in small businesses. “We need to create a framework now, so that as our economy continues to recover and rebound, no one is left behind,” Turner said, encouraging a “bottoms-up approach by investing in the people and businesses that are already here.” Focusing on infrastructure improvements, transportation and mobility around the County, and housing affordability will provide greater opportunities for new businesses, new jobs, and a way to access them.
He applauded MARTA for the work they have done in Clayton County to connect people to their jobs, including the Southlake BRT lane, bus shelters, transit-oriented development projects, and MARTA Reach final-mile vans. MARTA has also opened an operations and maintenance facility in College Park, adding to the many new businesses that have relocated to Clayton and provided a collective hundreds of new jobs. “While small business is the backbone of our economy, our workforce is the beating heart,” said Chairman Turner, calling for aggressive industry diversification, transportation improvements, and infrastructure investment that will provide the opportunity and access to shape Clayton’s next chapter.
Re-watch the virtual stream of the event below.