With little funding, DAPC unable to chase down large employers
The location of Sany Corporation’s first U.S. operation in Peachtree City offers a significant opportunity to lure even more jobs here than the 150 initial positions
and an additional 150 within three years of cranking up.
High-ranking Sany officials in China have agreed to help city leaders in attempts to recruit some 19 of its suppliers to also establish a U.S. operation here in conjunction with Sany. But the Development Authority of Peachtree City, without a paid staffer who can recruit such companies, has to pass that job on to the Fayette County Development Authority, which has for the past number of years been the sole point of contact for any new industry or medium to large size business considering a move here.
The question that has popped up lately among city elected officials is how the city can do more to attract more jobs. And, to an extent, whether the city can work more aggressively to keep its existing employers happy, and whether vacant buildings in the city’s industrial park can be filled.
DAPC’s chairman, Mark Hollums, says the county does a great job in recruiting industry but is handcuffed by being a one-man operation.
Some might say the opportunity with Sany’s vendors won’t exist forever.
“They sent us a list of 19 vendors, but we’ve got to call on them,” Hollums said. “We’d love to bring in companies currently doing business with Sany. They’re willing to open some doors with us.”
As an all-volunteer board with just $35,000 a year in its budget and no full-time staffer, DAPC is unable to chase big-time business leads such as the Sany vendors.
Mayor Don Haddix and Councilman Doug Sturbaum are battling to increase that funding to $150,000 a year.
That effort has met with resistance from council members Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard, who contend there are no measurable goals for the authority to shoot for. Instead, they prefer to add the employee to city staff for an increased measure of control over results.
Haddix and Sturbaum contend the city needs to move swiftly to take advantage of special tax credits offered now which could expire after as little as a year.
Under that program, the city’s industrial park was granted a higher level of state tax credits. So new employers moving to the industrial park and those expanding here will get credits of $3,500 for each new job created as opposed to $500 previously.
The program also adds more investment credits for businesses to reap in the industrial park, Hollums noted.
The tax credits are only available on certain projects ranging from warehouse distribution to research and development, high-tech companies and tourism development, for example, Hollums said.
While DAPC has been unable to chase big-time business and office tenants, the authority has been making headway in other ways that impact the city’s bottom line.
DAPC has been crucial in helping establish merchants associations in the city’s village retail centers, which have been absorbing hits since the glut of new retail stores began to develop along Ga. Highway 54 West over the past few years.
Now the merchants in the Braelinn, Glenloch and Westpark shopping areas are putting their heads together on efforts to draw retail traffic to their shops.
DAPC also has taken a lead in working to attract a college to the city, in particular Atlanta Christian College, which has plans to move from its current campus in East Point.