Local government officials talk economic development at a joint city-county meeting.
Stephens County and Toccoa City Commissioners gathered Tuesday morning at the Cornerstone Restaurant in downtown Toccoa for that joint meeting.
During the meeting, both sides heard from Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin on two different topics, the Big A Road and Toccoa By-pass sewer expansion project and economic incentives for prospective businesses.
On the topic of incentives, Martin said he would like some fresh input from city and county commissioners about what types of incentives they are willing to offer a prospective business.
“What if we had a company that wanted to move to the community and they were going to bring 100 jobs?” asked Martin. “Would we talk to them about their tap fees for water, natural gas, wastewater? What does the thought process look like?”
Martin said there is not always time to get that input on short notice if negotiating with a business over possible incentives.
Toccoa Vice-Mayor Andy Pavliscsak agreed and said that Martin needs to have a general idea of how far he can go.
Officials also note that StephensCounty has to compete with neighboring areas, like South Carolina, that are offering larger incentives for industries.
City and county commissioners both said that they will look at the matter more closely, taking into account what neighboring areas are doing.
Meanwhile on the topic of expanding sewer down Big A Road and onto the Toccoa By-pass, Martin says work continues to try and obtain grants from federal and state sources to help build the project.
Pavliscsak said it is not a simple project, but it remains a very important one.
“Think back to all the time you have been in Toccoa and StephensCounty and how Toccoa grew down Big A Road and it stopped,” said Pavliscsak. “Well, the sewer stopped and it is going to stay that way until the sewer gets in place.”
The plans are to build out water and sewer improvements between Big A Road and the Toccoa By-pass, as well as on the By-pass between Big A Road and a location near the intersection of the By-pass and Highway 106.
Officials said the initial improvements, which would cost about $5.5 million, would not complete the project, but build it in such a way as to provide the ability to get sewer service to a property along those areas quickly as needed for potential development.