Development authority eyed in Grantville

by W. Winston Skinner

The possibility of a development authority for Grantville — one that might help spur development along U.S. Highway 29 — is being discussed.

Royce Bemis, a member of Grantville’s Downtown Development Authority, talked with the city council about the concept. He said inspiration for the idea came both from a conversation he had with Councilman Barham Lundy and from a visit to Manchester in Meriwether County.

Many towns use development authorities to issue bonds and to undertake projects that create economic growth. The current Grantville DDA is limited in scope to projects that primarily impact downtown.

Bemis recalled talking with Lundy, who reminded him U.S. Highway 29 is the main corridor through Grantville — pointing out that development there would help the entire town.

Bemis also talked about a recent trip to Manchester and his visit with development authority officials there. Manchester’s authority has bought, rehabbed and sold at least one building.

"It’s making the town grow, and it’s generating revenue,” Bemis said.

Bemis said he sees great potential for Grantville. "Grantville has a big secret, and that secret is strategic location," he said. In addition to Highway 29, the city has an Interstate exit and a railroad line in the city.

The town offers great options "for jobs and for industry," he said. “Very few people have gone out and tried to promote Grantville.”

He noted Senoia has set up a citywide authority in addition to their downtown board.

"Senoia is bringing in jobs. They’re bringing in commerce, and they’re bringing in a lot of traffic," he said. There is no reason Grantville should not “be able to compete with the Hogansvilles and the Senoias,” he added.

“The more we draw attention to Grantville, the more people will” visit the city and “see Grantville has potential to develop,” Bemis said.

"The idea of getting the community more involved in the development of our city is an element we need to add," Councilman Johnny Cooks said. He said he would like to see a community advisory board comprised of residents from throughout the city to advise the council on public safety and possible improvements.

"I’d like to commend the council for their approach on the citywide development authority. We need to be focused on more than just downtown,” Mayor Jim Sells.

Several items on the agenda related to the DDA:

• DDA member Robert Allen talked with the council about a commemorative brick project that would be modeled on a similar project in Manchester. The council approved the proposal.

• Councilwoman Rochelle Jabaley encouraged attendance at the Big Band Barn Dance on Saturday. The event, sponsored by the DDA, will be held from 7-11 p.m. at the historic freight depot.

Night Train Swing Band, featuring soloist Karin Williams, will be performing. Tickets are $10 for adults, and children are admitted free.

Tickets may be purchased at Z is for Zombies and Grantville Package Store.

Jabaley said music from the 1940s-1980s will be featured. “I hope this will be well attended,” she said. "It will be a good time to sit down and have a good time with your friends and neighbors here in Grantville."

• Rebecca Campbell of the DDA presented a check for $1,200 from the DDA to officials from Glanton Elementary School. The money — for school art program supplies — was raised at the Kid-A-Palooza event on Aug. 3.

The size of the gift is "a testament to what the community thinks about Glanton Elementary,” Sells said.

Cooks told DDA members, "I'm very impressed with the things you’re doing."

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