Development Authority sees positive economic forecast

by Clay Neely -

It was a very strong holiday season for Coweta retailers, and there is potential for a very economically positive new year for the region, Coweta County Development Authority members heard during their first meeting of 2014.

“I’m happy to report that Coweta County is the final Georgia site under consideration by a company that has been looking for a new manufacturing location,” said Greg Wright, president of the Development Authority.

“We continue to work very closely with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, our utility partners and hope to have a final decision from the company by the end of January.” The company’s plans call for approximately 40 jobs to start, with the possibility of more than 100 at full production.

“If you’ve driven out toward Piedmont Newnan Hospital, you can see that HealthSouth is continuing construction and hopes to be up and running by the end of the year,” said Wright.

“However,” continued Wright, “on a bad news front, the Newnan Behavioral Hospital’s Certificate of Need through the Department of Community Health was denied. With the opposition that came out against them, I was not surprised. They also denied HealthSouth as well in the past and they had to go through the appeals process to get their CON, so we’ll continue to stay in touch with the hospital officials and do what we can as they go through the appeal process.”

The authority hosted site visits by three different international manufacturing companies, two of which are in the automotive industry and one in the plastics industry. All three companies asked to see available sites with officials of one company stating their need of a site with rail access.

The recent decision of the Coweta County Board of Commissioners on the removal of impact fees was a very popular topic of discussion. “This has been a huge plus for us and we certainly appreciate it,” said Terry Daviston, authority chairman.

“This was certainly welcome news and we appreciate the commission's action,” said Wright. “We’re have been working with our partners to help spread the word, particularly to site location consultants and brokers.”

According to Wright, the authority has provided site information with an international manufacturing project the state is working. The company is looking for 30 to 50 acres for a build-to-suit opportunity.

“Given our available building inventory, we are hopeful that this action will encourage more spec building development. We’ve had discussions with some companies about doing that. We’re close to 3 percent or less on available building space now so we definitely need some spec buildings to show,” Wright said.

Jeff Lamb, chair of the Georgia District Export Council and a Coweta resident, was a guest Thursday.

“The members of the Georgia District Export Council all have a government appointment but we’re all volunteers, made up of business leaders with experience in international trade with our sole purpose being to help other U.S. companies to successfully export. We solely focus on exporting. Some states have several DEC’s (District Export Council) but Georgia only has one,” said Lamb.

Lamb gave a brief overview on what is currently happening in international trade that could impact the county.

“Looking at Georgia District 3, exporting generated 3.8 million dollars in 2012 and it’s estimated that 10,669 jobs are directly supported by exporting in the third district. Our mission is trade education and helping companies understand the impact of trade. Those who serve on the DEC’s have a passion for exports, and I personally believe that we can compete around the world,” said Lamb. “We see examples every day of companies who are successfully exporting around the world from our area.”

Lamb also spoke about a hot topic in the international trade.

“The President is seeking Trade Promotion Authority which is commonly known as fast-track. With Trade Promotion Authority, he would have a good chance of clinching huge trade pacts now being hammered out with Europe and Asia. One of the challenges of negotiating international trade agreements is that countries don’t want to feel like they need to negotiate 535 members of Congress. They want to feel like they can negotiate in good faith. What the Trade Promotion Authority does is essentially give an up or down vote in the Congress without the ability to add amendments. In 2007 it collapsed and needs to get renewed again.”

Lamb spoke to the Trans Pacific Partnership or the TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

“The TPP would give us the ability to simultaneously negotiate with 11 countries throughout Asia to reduce tariffs and gain better access for US exporters. The TTIP is an effort to reduce tariffs and coordinate regulation between the E.U. and the U.S. Both of these are in the late stages of development so that’s why you’ll hear more pressure to get the trade authority renewed so we can get to the end of these agreements and get up or down votes,” said Lamb.

Also at Thursday’s meeting was the election of 2014 officers in which a motion was passed to maintain the present officers going into next year for both the Coweta County Development Authority and the Development Authority of Coweta County: Greg Wright, president; Brenda Washington, executive assistant; David Brown, vice chairman; Steve Stripling, secretary/treasurer and Terry Daviston, chairman.

Also passed in the meeting was the 2014 Conflict of Interest Resolution. The resolution sets out the conflict of interest rules which currently exist in the Georgia State Law (32-62-5 of the O.C.G.A.) which states that any member that may have an interest in the authority, that person can not be involved in any way while the topic is discussed or voted on. If a member has an interest that is a value in excess of $200 or more per calendar quarter, that transaction would need to be advertised in the newspaper 30 days prior to the transaction.

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