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Boosters promote area to others
Glynn County's economy has two chief engineers: Nathan Sparks and Scott McQuade, both of whom are optimistic about what 2013 will bring to the coastal community.

Sparks, director of the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority, and McQuade, director of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau, both see positive signs of what lies ahead.

Almost everyone has job creation on the mind, and that's Spark's job. He's tasked with developing Glynn County's work force by providing resources to existing businesses and attracting others to move into the area.

"Our role is really to be a champion for Glynn County," Sparks said.

To do that, Sparks and his staff work with the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, business leaders and prospective businesses, as well as with a host of others.

Brunswick and Glynn County leaders have trusted the authority to represent them and market their assets, Sparks said, and there's plenty to talk about.

"In order for a community to be a viable, sustainable community you have to be versatile," Sparks said.

The community features a variety of industries, including banking, retail and service industries, as well as manufacturers.

Business and political leaders in Atlanta, a major target for the development authority, haven't always seen potential in the Golden Isles, but that's starting to change.

"Without exception they are all on board with helping us achieve success," Sparks said.

People are taking note of the educational opportunities in the Golden Isles and infrastructure assets like the Port of Brunswick and access to Interstate 95.

"It's critically important now more than ever that our community have a well-articulated and well-organized economic development proposition, and we believe that we do," Sparks said.

Tourism is a major part of the job picture, said McQuade, whose job is to keep Glynn County in the minds of tourists before and after their arrivals.

"That is a big job in itself and it entails looking at everything out there," McQuade said.

That means aggressive advertising and targeting prime market areas.

McQuade pays close attention to the competition, destinations such as Savannah and Destin, Fla., looking at their hotel room pricing, marketing campaigns and activities offered to visitors.

But it's more than just running numbers. McQuade must have his finger on the pulse of the local tourism industry. He has to stay in constant contact with hoteliers, retailers and other drivers of tourism.

"That's who I try to be - someone who is proactive and thinking outside the box and trying to bring our customers here," McQuade said.

The bureau is a major sponsor of the McGladery Classic that takes place on St. Simons Island each October. The PGA tournament has helped put the Golden Isles in the national spotlight.

"It does more than just promote golf. It promotes the whole area," McQuade said.

Monday: How Glynn County government is moving ahead

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