What: U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal is expected to announce his bid for governor in 2010 at the downtown Gainesville event.
When: 10 a.m. today
Where: Kenyon Plaza between the old and new Hall County courthouses
Joe Satterfield makes no bones about it: A politician isn’t worth much if he doesn’t look out for his hometown.
Having a governor from your town holds a tradition of bringing both notoriety and the potential of new roads or facilities.
Thus, the expected announcement today by U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal that he is entering the 2010 governor’s race could bode well for Gainesville and Hall County should the local Republican be elected.
Satterfield is general manager of Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, an electric utility that serves portions of Georgia and North Carolina. Its headquarters is located in Young Harris, hometown of former Gov. Zell Miller.
"Just the fact that Zell Miller was from Young Harris put the name out there a lot," Satterfield said. "It gave name recognition to the area."
Before Miller was elected governor, a four-lane highway was completed linking the mountain town to Atlanta. Portions of the highway are named in Miller’s honor.
But while he was governor, the state constructed Brasstown Valley Resort, which has become a popular destination for both tourists and convention groups.
"There was criticism of the resort," Satterfield said. "But if a guy can’t do something for back home, he’s not a good guy."
Satterfield said the resort, which is now leased to a private company, has spawned other tourist development in the region. It also has led many visitors to build or acquire a second home in the mountains.
He said that Miller’s respect didn’t stop at the state line.
"There are folks in Clay and Cherokee county, across the line in North Carolina, that will tell you that Zell was the best governor they ever had," Satterfield said.
In Houston County, former state Rep. Larry Walker, a current member of the State Transportation Board, said Gov. Sonny Perdue has remembered his home region.
"He’s been good for Houston County," Walker said. "It’s an ungrateful man that won’t help his own folks and friends."
Walker said one of Perdue’s greatest gifts to his home county was using his influence with the Bush administration to keep Robins Air Force Base off the list of military sites to be closed. The base is the largest civilian employer in the state.
Among the most visible efforts of Perdue in his home county is the Go Fish Georgia Center at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry. The facility is scheduled to open later this year as a center to encourage participation in recreational and competitive fishing.
Two Georgia governors, Joe Frank Harris and George Busbee, helped land major breweries in their hometowns.
Busbee helped bring the Miller Brewing Co. to his hometown of Albany. Clifton McDuffie of Oakwood, a former executive with the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, was on the staff of Albany’s chamber of commerce while Busbee was governor.
"Busbee made Albany much more visible, and it helped in our economic development efforts," McDuffie said. "It was like the spotlight was on the town."
Busbee, who died in 2004, was widely known for his economic development efforts, particularly in bringing Japanese businesses to Georgia.
Harris, a teetotaler, helped bring an Anheuser-Busch brewery to his hometown of Cartersville.
Herschel Wisebram, who spent more than half a century as a radio broadcaster in Cartersville, said Harris’ eight years in office were good for Cartersville and Bartow County.
"It brought a lot of good attention to the community," Wisebram said.
Wisebram was among those present when August Busch III, at a lavish luncheon, announced his plans for the brewery. He said there were iced containers of Anheuser-Busch products at every table, except one. Busch, out of respect for the governor’s opposition to alcohol, sat with him at a table without a single beer.
Another Northeast Georgia governor, Ernest Vandiver, angered Hall County leaders when he ordered a change in the route of Interstate 85 in the early 1960s. The highway originally was planned to go through Hall County along the route of what is now I-985.
Vandiver opted to give the benefit of a major highway to his hometown of Lavonia and redirected the road through Jackson, Banks, Franklin and Hart counties. The portion of the road that goes through his hometown and county are named in Vandiver’s honor.