Photos by Cameron Flaisch
THINGS ARE LOOKING GREAT in the City of Seven Hills nowadays. Broad Street is alive with activity and our children have great places to learn and prepare for their futures. Walking trails and rivers are dotted with locals and out-of-towners who all want to experience the natural beauty and clean air of our countryside. And if you are quiet, you can almost hear the roar of the crowd as one of
Rome’s top-notch sports teams leads the city to victory.
Many of the exciting elements Rome and Floyd County enjoy are the result of a concentrated effort spearheaded by our local Chamber of Commerce. This group of business leaders and professionals are the well spring of all the opportunities to live, work and play in this bustling corner of the state.
Jan Ferguson, one of five owners of Ford, Gittings and Kane Jewelers, offers a look inside a recent rebrand effort through the eyes of a business and board member of the Chamber.
“Ford, Gittings and Kane has been a Chamber member since 1958, and when a company is a member of the Chamber the employees are as well. So, when I came to work here in 1973, I was able to attend Chamber functions and see what was happening with Rome and Floyd County’s small business community, industry and educational opportunities.” Ferguson recalls. “Being a member of the Chamber has been one of the most important things we have done as a small business. We know what industries are coming to town, when new things are happening like our new tennis center, and we have an advocate who will speak on our behalf when new legislation is being considered that effects small business. And we are lucky to have a very strong Chamber of Commerce.”
Ferguson, as a board member, was able to be a part of the rebrand process and was also instrumental in choosing the firm that assisted in this undertaking. Formerly known as the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce, this dedicated group of community leaders had one goal in mind, and that was to give a new look to the Chamber without losing the history that has made Rome and Floyd County an ideal place to live and start a family. “I was very privileged to come in and listen and be a sounding board during the rebrand process. I served as a voice of the past to ensure that, as a longtime member of the local business community, we were able to preserve all of the things we love and represent in our community. Once I was able to see some of the reasons we needed to rebrand, I was excited to help form the new look and have a hand in preparing the future for business in our area.”
One of the things Ferguson mentions is the use of the words “Greater Rome”. To the home team, this is an inclusive term representing all of Floyd County and not just the population inside the city limits. However, for outsiders the name can sometimes be viewed as boastful. Anyone who has spent time here knows that our community embodies humility and could write the book on Southern hospitality.
“Since we are local business owners, we also had another request. We wanted the firm who assisted in the rebrand to be local,” she adds.
Al Hodge, a Chamber of Commerce professional who has served as president and CEO of our local organization for nearly 20 years, recognized the need to revitalize the image Rome and Floyd County has in the state, the nation and even the world. Through his travels around the globe, he has worked with international business prospects and collected data to find the formula for what makes a community attractive to new and existing business leaders. “A Chamber is effective if it is a catalyst for positive change in a community. That is where our members come in. They set good policy and make an overall difference in our approach to building a thriving environment for our citizens. So, it was imperative that we form a committee comprised of our members and board to see us through the rebrand process,” Hodge explains.
It is important to know how the Chamber’s role in the community works. If you can picture a bicycle wheel, you have a center that attaches to the fork. From the center, spokes extend out to many different points along the rim and attach, giving the entire wheel strength. The Chamber is our center and they reach out to multiple areas of focus in our community and bond them together. Using education, recreation and a healthy business environment, our community becomes strong and new industry is more encouraged to ride along on our journey.
“When we think about prosperity, we work to help everyone who shares our community to improve. Part of our interest is driven by jobs, good jobs that pay well,” he says, “and to have that you need employers. We focus on facilitating start-up business, assisting existing businesses to grow and recruitment of new industry to our area. To do this, we work with city and county governments to ensure growth in all aspects of our community.”
Part of the recent advancement in our region is due to the Rome-Floyd 20/20 strategic plan. Now in phase three, evidence of this plan can be seen all around our area. A large example of the plan in motion is Rome and Floyd County being home to our minor league baseball team, the Rome Braves.
“The Rome-Floyd 20/20 process elicits ideas, vision and dreams, criticisms and praise. We review this plan every five years and chart our Floyd County adding new growth all around. As you look through the arched doorway, you see a diamond, a shining symbol of a city on a hill. John Winthrop stated in 1630, ‘We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.’ He wrote that for the community to work, ‘we must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience, and liberality,’ adding, ‘always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body.’
In our logo you see threads coming together. Threads representing our fabric, the unique individuals representing a common goal, the same vision…to cultivate our community to make it fertile for additional growth, producing jobs and harvesting opportunity for all of Rome and Floyd County citizens. In these threads you see progress or improve our approach. The plan officially started in 1998 and our rebrand is part of this plan,” says Hodge.
Through polling, town halls and just listening to the members of the Chamber, the decision was made to give our Chamber a fresh face to match the forward-thinking philosophy.
Jeanne Krueger, director of membership for the Rome Floyd Chamber, shares some of the thought that has gone into the logo and name change for the Chamber.
“I love the new way we are able to tell our story. We have had a huge amount of positive response from the new logo design. Ellie Borromeo and Ian Griffin with V3 Magazine did a wonderful job of leading us through this process and arriving at the finish with a product we all envisioned,” Krueger says. “In our new logo, you can see the three rivers and the seven hills, but you can also sense the people of our community coming together. Our educational systems, our medical industry and our overall business community works together creating the fabric that is Rome and Floyd County.
“We wanted to tell that story to the people of Rome and Floyd County, but we wanted it to translate to others nationally and globally as well. The logo has that appeal, because it is modern and contemporary, but it doesn’t neglect all of the things that are a part of our rich history.”
Krueger goes on to say that they still use the Clocktower in many of their photos and recruitment materials because it is such a large part of our identity. However, the ability to appeal to outside industry is easier using a logo that portrays the continuity of our people. “We are now able to tell a broader story about who we are and why this is an environment that is centered on the people who make it all work,” she adds.
As we transition into all the new things on the horizon in Rome and Floyd County, it helps to know we have capable professionals at the helm, guiding our fair corner of the state to greatness. And for those outside of our borders, we welcome you along for the ride. Opportunity awaits.
We at V3 are honored to be a part of this new and exciting chapter for the Chamber. We found it fitting to leave you with a few words from the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Rome Floyd Chamber, John Quinlivan, as the new changes were rolled out for all to see.
“The new logo for the Chamber symbolizes the confluence of our three rivers and seven hills. Embedded in the logo are an “R” and an “F”, representing the coming together of Rome and the fabric of community and we respectfully honor, at a glimpse, the experienced hands of Dr. Paul Ferguson, Mr. Frank Barron and Mr. John Bennett and others who have stitched so beautifully the threads of leadership for Rome and Floyd County.
In looking at our logo one may see bridges. We continue to build bridges, develop transformational leadership and connect people to promote business with a unified economic development approach. Bridges connect us to our vibrant downtown, a gathering place where conversations spark smiles, laughter and innovative ideas and solutions. This is where we are treated to the Rome Little Theatre performances and beautiful music from the South’s oldest symphony, the Rome Symphony Orchestra and local bands honing their talent at our favorite night spots.
The bridges take us over the river to our sporting venues where we play tennis, walk the greenways, kayak the river ways and hit it out of the park at a Rome Braves Game.
So, what may look simple at first glance tells a rich story of past and future coming together, from analog to digital with diversity, industry and service with total clarity and focus on our beautiful metro city on a hill.”