2017 marks the 90th anniversary of Georgia Power's ongoing efforts to contribute to the growth and success of our home state. Robin Spratlin was a major player in that effort for twenty of those years, until her retirement. To commemorate the occasion, we asked for Robin's expert perspective on how the utility company we know and love came to be known as a powerhouse in economic development.
Q: How did Georgia Power start recruiting companies to come to Georgia?
Robin: In 1927, the president of the company at the time, Preston Arkwright, started thinking that we needed to expand when it came to industry. We had a lot of agricultural business, but things were changing in the country. Georgia Power set up an office in New York City and started talking to businesses there about potentially locating here. After World War 2, the state also ramped up efforts in economic development and that partnership between Georgia and Georgia Power really kicked off.
Q: How did economic development change after that initial kickoff?
Robin: In the 1960s, the site selection process was getting much more sophisticated, and so they added an engineering department. Economic developers were realizing that communities needed to have industrial parks ready, and so adding that part to the team would be a huge advantage to the effort.
As more and more information started being compiled, a research team was also added. We needed to be able to do market research to target the right industries and have the know-how about what they were looking for. They could also then provide information services to prospects as they planned a potential move to Georgia, as well as share their knowledge with communities to help them attract new business.
Q: That's a lot of change for 90 years- What other changes did you see in your time on the team?
Robin: Well, it did become more competitive as people became more mobile- rail and airports were growing, so you started to see more international investment. Georgia Power continues to anticipate and respond to market demand as things keep evolving.
Q: What's your favorite part of having been involved in Economic Development in Georgia?
Robin: My favorite thing about it was the people- the fact that you were working to create jobs for a community was life-changing. And how much you can learn from them in the process, and meeting good people and keeping a strong partnership with the State.
Q: What were some of the most exciting wins you remember?
Robin: Oh, there were so many. Some that jump out- Kia, Porsche, UPS, Baxter. It was so exciting to see how those communities were being impacted by the announcements.
Q: What do you think companies who are searching for a location come away with when they work with Georgia Power and the State?
Robin: Prospects come away knowing that we are committed and professional. The level of service and knowledge from our people and our teamwork with the state make the process much more manageable. I think they also appreciate our authenticity- we never cover up any potential issues they might find with a site, because things are not always perfect. But we always faced those issues together and offered solutions instead- I think that shows we cared then, and still care now, 90 years later.