The yearly report from the Stephens County Development Authority shows that job creation in the county dipped in the last 12 months.
Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin presented his yearly report for Fiscal Year 2012-2013 to Toccoa City and Stephens County Commissioners last week.
Martin said that for this past fiscal year, there were 45 new jobs created with total investments of $11.59 million.
That is down from 2012, when 112 jobs were created with total investments of $22.3 million, and from 2011, when 156 jobs were created with total investments of $18.3 million.
Martin said the national economic picture as a whole is still struggling.
“Today in 2013, there are fewer jobs in the United States than there were in the year 2000,” said Martin. “We are struggling nationally in economic terms. Too often, what happens is (when) the national economy gets the sniffles, local communities get pneumonia.”
Two new industries, Cotton Conversions and Tencate, have both opened this past year in Stephens County.
Martin said a crucial tool in getting them here was the granting of opportunity zones that give additional state tax credits to businesses that locate on properties designated as opportunity zones.
“We did receive two opportunity zone designations this past year,” said Martin. “In both instances, it resulted directly in decisions by companies to locate in this community.”
Martin said the Development Authority is also hopeful that the state will approve the Development Authority’s application to give that same opportunity zone status to the Hayestone-Brady Business Park on Highway 17.
Meanwhile, Toccoa City Commissioner Terry Carter asked Martin during his presentation to the city about the Development Authority’s budget.
Stephens County is giving the Development Authority $50,000 and the city of Toccoa is giving $40,000. That means the Development Authority will tap into its $500,000 in reserves to cover the remainder of the agency’s approximate $400,000 annual budget.
Martin said using those reserves to fill out the budget mean they would not be available for other things.
“Those reserves are there because they need to be there,” said Martin. “They are there because we do not know when a company might come to us and say (they) need sanitary sewer and how can we get that done. Deal closing help could be a very valuable tool in our tool chest.”
Martin also covered a number of other areas in his report, including the Development Authority’s efforts with existing industry and communications and marketing, to name a few.