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Newton Chamber fills two positions in-house

Dave Bernd was named of the Covington-Newton Chamber of Commerce vice president of economic development. (Special photo)

Dave Bernd was named of the Covington-Newton Chamber of Commerce vice president of economic development. (Special photo)

COVINGTON – Dave Bernd has moved into a new position with the Covington-Newton Chamber of Commerce transitioning from director of commercial development to vice president of economic development.

He was hired in November to conduct a wide retail analysis of the county and recruit more businesses and will now shift his focus to attracting more large industries similar to Baxter International into the county.

Bernd said his goal as he steps into this new role is to have Newton County become the economic leader in the nation within the next five years.

“It’s critical we look at our competitors outside of Georgia to see what they’re offering for incentive packages in order to really push Newton County as a place where industries can locate,” Bernd said.

After more than 30 years working with Kimberly-Clark Corp., Bernd brings a strong background in industrial knowledge to the Chamber. He spent 12 years selecting sites for new manufacturing facilities in North and South America.

“This brings a very unique experience skill set to ensure we maintain our competitive edge not only to attract, but also to retain and strengthen our current very diverse multinational industrial base here in Newton County,” Chamber President Hunter Hall said in a press release.

Bernd’s experience and positions held most recently within Kimberly-Clark were to turn around sites and divisions that were struggling, which included several facilities and research and development organizations within the U.S. and Canada, using Lean/Six-Sigma tools and practices.

“My new responsibility will include not only drawing in new industries but focusing on the existing ones because we don’t want to forget about their impact,” Bernd said. “And we’ll continue to recruit the commercial businesses so more people will stay and spend money in the county instead of elsewhere.”

Stepping into Bernd’s former role as director of commercial development is Serra Phillips, former Main Street program interim director.

“We have worked with Serra for some time and know her well as she has served on our Tourism Advisory Committee,” Hall said. “Serra will be a great asset as our director of commercial development because she is very driven and goal oriented, articulate, and has great local connections that will be critical for the position.”

Phillips will work under Bernd’s direction while facilitating the market study and implementing the strategy to gain more commercial businesses.

On Thursday, Bernd and Phillips will host a retail discussion about the commercial opportunities within the county. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at The Center.

“Our objective is to go through the retail study so people understand what opportunities are available,” Bernd said.

A representative from Franchoice will be at the meeting for those interested in becoming a franchise owner.

“I hope this round table discussion will show firsthand the opportunities Newton County has for businesses, then give the residents interested in venturing out to open a business the tools needed to take those steps in becoming an owner,” Bernd said.

If you go

What: Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce retail meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27

Where: The Center, located at 2104 Washington St. SW, Covington