U.S. Rep. Tom Graves is assembling a group of constituents he says will help him make key policy decisions about economic development.
The congressman, who was elected last month to complete the final months of former Rep. Nathan Deal's term in the U.S. House, named eight Hall County residents to a future Business Advisory Council he says will meet for the first time in late August.
The council, Graves said, will consult with him on ways to encourage job growth in the district.
Graves said the 70-plus member council also will provide feedback on proposed legislation related to economic development.
Graves made the announcement as part of a tour of the 15-county district Monday in front of a small gathering of business people at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
Graves, who also is seeking the Republican nomination for the House seat in the July 20 primary, said he hoped the council could be a model for other districts in the country, calling it a "grassroots" approach to economic development policy.
Graves has named state Sen. Chip Pearson as the council's chairman and state Rep. James Mills, R-Gainesville, as an ex-officio member of the council.
Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann also will represent local government interests on the council.
"We know where the ideas are held," Graves said. "The ideas are in the small-business owners. ... My approach is to go to those .... who are the ones that are the job creators and you ask them, ‘what keeps you from hiring the next person?' And those are the ideas we're looking for."
The council will include volunteer members from each county in the district, Graves said.
He said he hopes the ideas generated by the council will get one out of every three businesses to add one employee to the payroll. Graves said if one out of every three businesses in the nation hired someone, unemployment would be cut in half.