Gov. Kemp announces leader for rural Georgia economic development effort

Gov. Brian Kemp and Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson announced Wednesday that Tift County’s Brian Marlowe will be the new deputy commissioner for rural Georgia.

Marlowe has been the president and CEO of the Tift County Development Authority.

As part of his job, Marlowe will lead the Governor’s Rural Strike Team, an initiative the Republican governor announced last year to improve the economy in rural parts of the state. The effort aims to market large rural industrial sites to new businesses, creating specific marketing plans for a site, targeting specific industries and training local leaders in business recruitment.

The state’s own ranking of counties shows that its least developed areas, based on poverty rates, unemployment rates and income, are overwhelmingly rural, with the exception of Clarke, Clayton and Dougherty counties. Almost all of those counties are south of Interstate 20.

“We believe that we can land big projects in rural communities across our state,” Kemp said Wednesday, saying he’s confident that Marlowe “will help us continue to move the needle in rural Georgia.”

Kemp was elected in 2018 with overwhelming support from rural, white voters and made Wednesday’s announcement as Republicans seek to maintain their majority in the state House, including a handful of rural districts that Democrats have targeted in addition to many more suburban Atlanta districts.

Marlowe has led business recruiting efforts in Tift County for 10 years. Before that he worked in Grady County. He was also a member of Kemp’s transition team, and Kemp cited his advocacy for improved internet service, health care and worker training.

Marlowe will be Wilson’s seventh deputy commissioner. Wilson said Marlowe has successful in Tifton, citing the recent decision of Coca Cola Bottling Co. United to locate a $60 million, 200-job distribution facility there.

“What we needed is someone who has a passion for growing rural communities and providing hope and opportunity,” Wilson said.

Marlowe is scheduled to start Dec. 1. Wilson said he wasn’t sure whether Marlowe’s office would be in Atlanta or somewhere else.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.