Fayette County is at a crossroads

Matt Forshee's picture

During the recession, something huge happened in Fayette County, the impact of which has not truly been felt: The “Developer of Peachtree City,” Pathway Communities, closed up shop.

Whether you agree with the choices that were made or not by them when they were developing, the entity was constantly impacting the community with the addition of residential, commercial and industrial space.

During the development of the city, Pathway and its predecessors developed the largest industrial park on the south side of Atlanta, the 2,200-acre Peachtree City Industrial Village.

Home to large companies like Panasonic Automotive, Eaton’s Cooper Lighting and NCR, as well as smaller companies like NAECO, Paschall and United Radio, the industrial park has offered an opportunity to grow and balance our local economy so that we are not as reliant upon Hartsfield-Jackson and Delta as major primary employers of Fayette County residents.

They also added significant investment to our community through new buildings and equipment, items for which these companies pay property taxes.

Today, the industrial areas in Fayette County that can support large employers are nearly built-out and occupied. There is very little unoccupied land that is zoned for industry, which has all necessary infrastructure in place which we can present to interested companies considering locating new projects here.

Without sites to show, we as a community get bypassed. An industry looking today for 50 acres or more of zoned industrial land in Fayette County can’t find it, as it doesn’t exist anymore.

The same goes for existing industrial buildings, often used as the “bait” to get companies to come look at our community. Just in the last few months, our largest existing industrial spaces have been mostly leased.

If a company is looking for 50,000 to 100,000 or more square feet of existing industrial building space to lease or purchase, we have only three buildings to present currently, all of which have significant occupancy challenges that companies so far have shied away from.

Our best industrial “bait” building, the 100,000-sq.-ft. building at 725 Hwy. 74 South (the Peachtree City spec building) was leased last month and should be occupied by spring. Without quality available buildings to show, we are bypassed.

Perhaps you think manufacturing growth isn’t the solution and that instead we should focus on growing corporate office and “knowledge based industry.”

In that case, we are even worse off in having existing available and zoned land and buildings.

The corporate office tenants are looking for existing built space more often than greenfield sites. Most of our larger existing office space is occupied, leaving smaller suites that often do not work for larger clients.

If a company is looking for 40,000 sq. ft. to 60,000 sq. ft. of existing, contiguous corporate office space in Fayette County, it is almost impossible to find. Additionally, many of our existing office-tech facilities have had challenges recruiting talent to our community, as it is not perceived to be a place where younger talent wants to locate to.

Maybe you feel our economy doesn’t need to grow based on large industry or corporate office, but on entrepreneurs and small business.

In that case, do you believe that we have all the pieces necessary to support the growth and maturation of small enterprises in a way that will significantly impact the economy of our county?

Are you a small-business owner or entrepreneur and are you satisfied with the opportunities here? Do you believe everything you need to grow is here now? If not, what else do we, as a community, need?

I present these points not to complain, but to note that we are at a crossroads as a community and to pose questions:

Are we as a community satisfied with where we are economically? Do you feel that you, your family, your business has everything here it needs to grow and succeed?

There is an effort going on now that needs your input. The Fayette Visioning effort is attempting to document where we are now as a community, where we want to go and how we plan to get there.

This isn’t a Comprehensive Plan as required by state government. This is a Visioning Plan — real challenges and opportunities looking for real solutions.

Some challenges and solutions may mean baby steps. Some may mean changes in world-view. But none of it will work without your input.

I ask you to get involved. Visit www.fayettevision.org and read up on where the effort is to date. There’s an online discussion going on now looking for both questions and ideas at http://fayettevision.mindmixer.com/.

But the vision will not be clear if you don’t help to provide the focus.

[Matt Forshee is president and CEO of the Fayette County Development Authority and member of the Fayette Visioning Initiative Steering Committee.]

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
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Joined: 07/23/2012
Thank you for being quick on

Thank you for being quick on your feet when Pinewood felt the studio location by the PTC airport was too noisy. Any good leader making a proposal always has a various options up their sleeve. Let's hope that Pinewood comes through with all the permanent jobs for our people. A temporary labor supplier being forced to lease space on site isn't a good first sign.

In your opinion column this week, you identified many issues that are presently handcuffing your efforts to solicit new business to the county. While you identified the problem, you did not offer any real solutions for the county to consider.

It would be more useful if the Development Authority perhaps identify areas that could be rezoned for industrial or commercial office. How about areas of the county that could use revitalization.

You're a sharp guy, and I am sure you knew what you were getting into before you took the position. And if that is the case, than this opinion column does nothing more than mimic an earlier column where a 20 something whines about "affordable" housing options.

There appears to be a veiled agenda that the vision still has not identified. And when you specifically state that this isn't a Comprehensive Plan for the county, I guess we have to believe you, because it isn't. It is however a definite step in that direction. When the county administrator or the county commissioners state that they are working on the comprehensive plan and this will not be used in June, than perhaps some of us will start believing there are no hidden agendas. Until than, please post away.

In addition, the mindmixer being used now doesn't seem to be getting the number of responses one would expect. If the vision people truly wanted input from the unwashed, they would have been more accommodating for meeting attendance and input. Requiring a linkedin or email address is a turn off for many. I am glad that things will open up on 3/5 with the announced call for a public meeting. I hope that there is an agenda passed on to us prior to this meeting so that we come prepared with our input.

conditon55
conditon55's picture
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Joined: 03/12/2010
PhotoCircuits

Some rich fat cats down at FayetteVisioning need to invest in renewal and revitalizaiton over at the old photocircuits sites in PTC. Could be film studios for someone with a big idea and some guts to act on it.

All effort should be made to preserve the natural character of the county. That is part of our claim to fame.
Once I develop natural land, the nature part is lost. Then you get grid lock like the north side.

Quality, not quantity preserves the Fayette County we enjoy today.

moelarrycurly
moelarrycurly's picture
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Joined: 10/17/2010
So now the $10,000. is going to go to FCDA

and not to Fayette Visioning. Per the new PTC council agenda today.