FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County is keeping an eye on its economic development by planning for the future.
James McCoy, president of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, presented an economic development plan to the County Commission June 6 calling for renewed efforts for commercial growth.
“As everyone probably knows, the huge issue for our community is the commercial portion of our tax digest,” McCoy said. “When [the chamber] started an economic development department in 2005, it helped reverse the trend of the shrinking commercial portion of the tax digest.”
Local governments depend on some measure of commercial growth to help offset the tax burden levied on homeowners.
In 2005, the county’s tax digest – taxable property – consisted of 81 percent residential and 19 percent commercial. Ten years later, the commercial portion of the digest rose to 28 percent.
“I think we all agree this curve is not nearly sharp enough,” McCoy said. “What we’ve done is not going to get us to where we need to be.”
The county’s investment into economic development has been good, McCoy said. For every $1 of public funds invested in the chamber’s current economic development activities, $358 was added back to the county’s tax digest.
“That’s new capital investment coming back to this community,” McCoy said.
The chamber’s economic blueprint was based on information collected by a stakeholder group county commissioners established in February. The group was asked to develop an interim economic development plan, provide recommendations on creating a new five-year plan and provide recommendations on the economic development tool box.
McCoy said they heard frequently a desire for higher paying jobs in low impact positions. By 2025, the group anticipates the county will have added 5,000 new jobs.
If approved by county commissioners, the group’s five-year economic development plan – still in the works – will be incorporated into the county’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
McCoy said the stakeholders recommend that the plan be proactive, focused, measurable and accountability-driven. The planning process should be transparent, inclusive and engaging, he said. The plan will be drafted and approved sometime in September 2018.
The plan will include:
• Deliverables of the plan include:
• Establishing meaningful dialogue with community stakeholders, citizens and businesses
• Weekly progress updates
• Identification of goals and objectives
Community analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
• Economic opportunity analysis
• Competitive analysis
• Target market identification and analysis
• Marketing plan
• Measurable deliverables and outcomes
• Recommendations for process updates and changes
• Budget and funding recommendations
County commissioners said they will revisit the topic again in July.