Hamilton led the way in LaGrange

Published 10:49 pm Monday, June 5, 2017

A leader, the saying goes, is someone who knows the way, shows the way and goes the way.  Retired banker James H. (Jim) Hamilton Jr., who helped found LaGrange’s Industrial Development Authority more than 40 years ago,  was all that and more.

Those who worked alongside Hamilton – or who followed in his pioneering footsteps – remember him as a pivotal figure in LaGrange’s early years of industrial recruitment. In just its first decade, the authority helped attract some two dozen industries, many of them household names and Fortune 500 companies. The successes of the 1970s and 1980s propelled the area forward and laid the foundation for the future.

Hamilton did not labor alone, of course, but with Glen O. Long, Walt Lukken, Gardner Newman, Dr. Cliff Rainey and others, he shaped the vision of LaGrange as a manufacturing center. He brought to his efforts an engaging blend of optimism, tenacity, personal style and business savvy. His financial expertise was essential, but his ability to make friends for LaGrange was even more crucial. Time and again, he and his cohorts on the industrial authority went the extra mile to impress prospects and persuade them that this community was the right choice for their business.

Hamilton’s salesmanship on behalf of LaGrange was sincere.  He proved that when he chose to return here for his later retirement years.  His legacy is also secure. Hundreds of people, many of them born after he did his finest work, now earn their living in the LaGrange Industrial Park and in its offshoot, the Jim Hamilton Industrial Park off Greenville Road, named in his honor.

LaGrange and Troup County are better places to work and to live because, at a critical time in our community’s history, Jim Hamilton was here to “know, show and go” the way.