Water, Land, Funds, Training: IDA Prepares for the Future
By LYDIA BERGLAR
The March 20 meeting of the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) included information from the Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority (JDA). President and CEO Jeff Mullis and Project Manager Spencer Hogg of the JDA attended to update Dade’s IDA about development across our region.
Several members of Dade’s board recently completed development authority training. Hogg noted that a state bill has expanded continuing education for development authorities, requiring two hours each year.
He explained, “There’s a bill going through the legislature right now that would change a few things with development authorities. There was some language in the bill originally that was potentially damaging to development authorities that was taken out. The only thing that would affect us is the continuing education part of the bill.”
Executive Director Evan Stone noted that he will be attending a project management course with Georgia Power in Atlanta this April.
As discussed at the previous meeting, Chairman James Cantrell is writing letters of support for the Dade County Water & Sewer Authority for projects on Highway 299 and Vanguard Drive. Stone reported that the authority is applying for two more grants, and he requested approval for the chairman to write additional letters of support.
William Baek (who has volunteered to serve as grant writer) explained that the projects are on Lookout Mountain, saying, “One runs along Highway 136, the others run up Highway 157 and Highway 189.”
Stone noted that the 299 and industrial park water projects are most important to the work of the IDA, “but any water we can get from a grant would be very beneficial to development in general. We’ll be applying on behalf of the IDA and the City of Trenton.”
Carey Anderson, public information officer for Dade County, gave an update on website developments. She reported that the county update is scheduled to go live between April 15 and 19. Once that occurs, the new IDA website and Dade County Sheriff’s Office website will both be able to roll out.
She said, “Leisa, Seth, and I need to begin working on content. The old website was so outdated that we wanted to start fresh. The old website was really for citizens of Dade County, but consider who you are really looking to market to. Is it investors who are looking at Dade County?”
Anderson encouraged the IDA to think about how to provide better information that is geared to their target audience, rather than more information.
Stone recommended creating two CDs, suggesting amounts of $25,000 and $50,000, leaving ample funds in the authority’s $210,000 budget (as reported this month). The board was in favor of moving forward, and Stone said he will bring several CD quotes before the board next month.
Stone also reported that lately, companies have been looking for existing buildings. One company called him looking for a 100,000 square foot building. “We don’t have the building, but we have the land,” he said, “We’re finding lately that a lot of companies want buildings that they can move into quickly.”
Hogg and Mullis explained that companies’ desires for such buildings cycle in and out. Mullis said, “They used to be hot and then they weren’t, but now they are again. Volskwagen activity has put [northwest Georgia] on the map, so we expect to be busy again, and Dade County is red hot, too.”
Hogg noted that supply chain issues may have impacted the desire for existing buildings. He said, “I hope that eases as the supply chain continues to recover.”
Hogg then noted two upcoming events that the JDA is leading. First, “We’re going to be in Atlanta on April 19 presenting all of our available sites here in northwest Georgia to the statewide project managers for the Department of Economic Development, our utility partners, ECG, and more. We’re presenting to all of them at one time and talking about why we’re the best place in the country to do business.”
Second, “We’re holding a Regional Economic Development Summit on April 24. We’ll talk about why economic development is a good thing, the impact it has on a regional level, and why we believe the regional approach is a good way to look at things. We’re excited about the trajectory of our region.”
Stone reported that Project Highland is not yet ready to go public, but the groundbreaking is upcoming in early April. He said, “We’re ready to not have to call it Project Highland anymore, but the company is not quite ready to go public. We plan to distribute a press release when it’s public.”
The board planned to discuss the contractors for Project Highland during executive session. In executive session, they also voted to allow Chairman Cantrell to sign a memorandum of understanding for Project Highland and to allow Stone to open another bank account to house SPLOST funds.
Stone has requested SPLOST funds from the county in order to purchase additional IDA property. He explained, “Any money the county gives us will go into that account.” This request was covered in the Feb. 8 edition of the Sentinel.