JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – When Craig McCoy is not wearing his CEO hat at Emory Hospital Johns Creek, he is chairman of the newly formed Johns Creek Advantage (a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization originally called the Johns Creek Economic Development Corp.), a public-private partnership that is dedicated to creating more opportunities for businesses in Johns Creek.
Johns Creek is a city well placed and with a highly educated work force. But the competition for new business development is intense, more so because of the recent recession. Counties and cities are not waiting for economic development opportunities to fall in their laps. Georgia competes with other Southeastern states, and the metro Atlanta communities compete with each other.
Even in North Fulton, Alpharetta, Roswell and Sandy Springs are often contesting for the same prize – witness the competition to land the North Fulton campus for Gwinnett Tech last year (won by Alpharetta, which included a $4 million “pot sweetener”).
With the city of Johns Creek on board as an active participant, the JC Economic Development Corporation has joined the fray. 2013 will be its first full year of operation, and McCoy and the rest of the Board of Directors are anxious to get cracking.
McCoy sat down with Johns Creek Herald Executive Editor Hatcher Hurd to talk about what the JCA has in store for its inaugural year.
HATCHER HURD: Why does the city need the Johns Creek Advantage? How will it help the taxpayers who are funding part of it?
JCEDC CHAIRMAN CRAIG McCOY: Economic and community development today is a highly competitive process, with communities and regions pursuing new jobs and investment through aggressive tactics to attract new businesses. They also work to retain and support the expansion of their existing companies and grow new companies from the ground up.
Many communities — both larger and smaller than Johns Creek — have launched ambitious multi-year programs to gain a competitive advantage.
With this competitive environment in mind, Johns Creek business leaders and public officials have concluded that an operational and financial public-private partnership is the best approach to achieving the intelligent growth and prosperity all desire for Johns Creek.
Accordingly, these leaders have formed “Johns Creek Advantage” [formerly known as the JCEDC] to drive economic development in Johns Creek.
JCA has recently developed a five-year economic development initiative in collaboration with the Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce and in consultation with the elected leaders of the city of Johns Creek. This approach is consistent with local, regional and national best practices.
The JCA initiative will result in the attraction of new businesses attracted to Johns Creek, expansion of existing businesses and new startup businesses in the city – all of which will benefit Johns Creek area taxpayers.
HURD: How exactly will the JCA work this – bringing new businesses to the city and retain existing ones?
McCOY: We intend to hire well-qualified economic development professionals to staff JCA. Once on board, this staff will implement a Five Strategy Initiative that includes tactics related to new business attraction, existing business retention and expansion and small business formation and growth.
Additionally, the initiative includes an opportunity fund, investor relations program and a number of special focus areas, such as supporting the creation of a Johns Creek geographic nucleus or City Center.
For example, sample tactics under “new business attraction” include:
(1) Establish relationships with Economic Development allies (state of Georgia, Atlanta Chamber and other regional ED organizations, universities, site selection firms, utilities, and so on.) and provide them with information regarding Johns Creek assets;
(2) Develop and place on the JCA website a list of all Johns Creek properties available for commercial development or redevelopment;
(3) Develop/implement a Johns Creek branding campaign with a focus on the attraction/retention of high-end businesses and workers;
(4) Develop an economic development-focused website that maximizes inquiries and provides information needed by site selectors and firms considering locating in Johns Creek.
HURD: What goals or benchmarks has the JCA set for itself?
McCOY: JCA is now finalizing the precise measurable job and other goals it will work to achieve during the next five years. New businesses and jobs in Johns Creek will mean new payroll, new disposable personal income, new personal consumer expenditures, new personal bank deposits, new capital investment, increased retail/commercial occupancy rates, an enhanced/diversified tax digest and new sales and property tax revenue to the city of Johns Creek.
HURD: What specific initiatives does the JCA plan for 2013?
McCOY: We have engaged Power 10 Fundraising, based in Atlanta, to assist us in managing a successful campaign to fund the initiative.
Once the campaign is complete, JCA intends to hire talented economic development staff, begin implementation of the JCA initiative and lay the groundwork for what we all desire – strong business and employment growth in Johns Creek for years to come.