Southeast Bioenergy Conference in Tifton, Georgia August 3-5!

The Southeast Bioenergy Conference will be held August 3-5 and will bring you the information and technology essential to "Building a Vibrant Renewable Energy Market for the Southeast." Global and local renewable energy experts and businesses will share with you what is happening now, what is possible and what is promising for the Southeast. The information you hear will help you advance your business agenda and prepare you to take advantage of opportunities coming down the pike. SEBC is valued for creating interactive dialogue between its 500-600 attendees who are actively involved in bioenergy businesses ranging from biofuels to power generation to energy efficiency. You can count on meeting with attendees from executive branches of government involved with developing bioenergy business; state and federal legislators; companies that are producing or have plans to produce; industry vendors; banks and investors; and educators ranging from high school programs to college professors.

All existing industry leaders are invited to attend!
For more information: Southeast Bioenergy Conference

WNEG - Old Chamber Building Coming Down To Make Way for Passive Park

Local officials are in the process of finding a new use for an old property.
The city of Toccoa, Stephens County, Development Authority, and Chamber of Commerce are working together to turn the property that has housed the old Chamber building into a passive green space.
The property is at the corner of Currahee Street and Big A Road in Toccoa. Recently, crews have demolished the old Chamber building to make way for the passive park.
For months, local and state officials have negotiated the sale of the state-owned property to the local community. That sale was going through and was expected to be completed in the Fall.
However, Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin said more recent developments pushed the timeline on the demolition of the building itself forward.
“In the meanwhile, the county realized that the landfill is full and it could not accept any more construction and demolition waste, so we told the state the plan had to be accelerated,” said Martin. “They gave us permission to get onto the site even though we do not own it yet, to take the building down and dispose of it properly.”
The sale of the property is still expected to go through in the Fall, and the state is receiving around $33,000 for the property.
According to Martin, the next step is to assemble a team to create a design for exactly what the space will look like.

Stephens County awarded grant for efforts improve high school graduation rate

Charlie Bauder/WNEG AM-630/Special to Independent Mail
The Stephens County School System has been awarded grant money that will be used to improve the high school graduation rate.

At a Stephens County Board of Education work session Thursday, Superintendent Sherrie Whiten said the school system has received a federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant.

The grant money will be used in the county for the Students Urgent Reach to Graduate and Excel (SURGE) program.

Whiten said the program focuses on a number of areas.

“The focus is on math and reading literacy, personal growth, parent involvement, and targeting economically disadvantaged students,” she said. “The overall goal is to affect the graduation rate, especially (among) the economically disadvantaged students.”

Click here to read the article: Stephens County awarded grant

Goodwill emphasizes training, placement

(The following is the second installment of a series highlighting industries in Toccoa-Stephens County)
North Georgia Headquarters for Goodwill is located on 1044 Clary Connector in Eastanollee. They fall under the world-wide Goodwill umbrella. Goodwill has 2 other North Georgia locations, one in Athens and Gainesville. They employ some 11-15 employees with full and part time jobs. They focus on training those with various disabilities. Emphasis is on training their students and enabling them to move into the mainstream work place. Several companies in this area support and depend on Goodwill but many more participants are needed to help with placement of their students.

Goodwill of North Georgia is a non-profit operation with a large portion of their thrift store sales used to support their training centers. Goodwill of North Georgia was ranked 43rd overall and 10th among those with more than 250 employees as one of the Best Places to Work by the Non-Profit Times.

Most people only know about the Goodwill retail stores but few know how the money is used to help those with disabilities.

The Toccoa Record

Stephens target blight

Stephens County Commissioners last week adopted a resolution establishing industrial redevelopment areas for the county. The resolution declares the existence in Stephens County of areas in which the deteriorated structures "endanger life and property" and can lead to ill health, transmission of disease, infant mortality, high unemployment, juvenile delinquency and crime.

The blighted areas can be detrimental to the public "health, safety, morals, and welfare," according to the resolution.

The resolution, through the designation of the urban redevelopment area, "allows the Stephens County Board of Commissioners to request the preparation of a workable urban redevelopment plan in accordance with Official Code of address the presence of factors within the area."

Tim Martin, SCDA director, identified the former WABCO property on Highway 123 North, Milliken-Humphrey site on Highway 123 South, and four or more sites within the Meadowbrook Industrial Park as areas designated for the project.

"This is the first step in a process that will result in the opportunity zone designation," Martin said. "First steps are vital, you don't move forward without those first steps."

The Toccoa Record -- Jessica Waters
Click here to read the article: Stephens targets blight

Georgia Trend:Toccoa/Stephens County: Working Together

Toccoa/Stephens County featured in Georgia Trend Magazine.

A couple of years ago, when Toccoa-Stephens County sent a delegation to Washington D.C., they asked to meet with U.S. Representative Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. The congressman listened to their concerns, then he asked about the Tugaloo River. He told them he had never forgotten the canoe trip he had taken at the invitation of community leaders 20 years ago when he was a member of the Georgia legislature.

“You don’t know what’s going to impress someone,” says Tim Martin, executive director of the Toccoa-Stephens County Development Authority. “But if the community’s citizens have bought into who you are and what you’re trying to show, then prospects are going to feel welcome. And people always remember an experience.”

When prospects come to Stephens County, they are shown around by any number of community leaders who have gone through the development authority’s “Chauffer Academy.” These tour guides have learned to point out the area’s attributes and distinctions, whether it’s a visit to a school, a manufacturer or a stop at one of Stephens’s unique homegrown restaurants.

The Chauffer Academy is just one of the ways people are involved with the development authority. More than 40 people serve on six committees within the authority, tasked with some 100 responsibilities along the lines of recruitment and attraction of new industry, retention and expansion of existing businesses, development of the work force, infrastructure and the “product” the county has to offer.

In the last couple of slow years, Toccoa-Stephens County has worked on enhancing its product. The county’s third industrial park, 420-acre Hayestone-Brady Business Park, will have roads, sewer and water extended to it by late summer this year. Fiber-optic telecommunications and natural gas are available, and the county has an abundant supply of water. Power is provided by both Georgia Power and Hart EMC. Rail is planned, and an 80,000-square-foot spec building is ready for a new owner. Additional sites are being graded, and plans are ready for the next building to be constructed.

Click here to read the article: Toccoa/Stephens County: Working Together

Dewtex experiences rapid growth

(NOTE: The following is the first in a series of pieces highlighting industries in Toccoa-Stephens County.)

The Stephens County Development Authority (SCDA) is assisting existing industries by creating an atmosphere for development within the community. Dewtex Inc. is a developer and manufacturer of a broad range of industrial reinforcement laid scrim solutions providing extremely flexible reinforcement systems.
Dewtex Inc. was established in July 2004 in Toccoa to serve Dewtex's North America market. This company is a subsidiary of the European technical fabrics market leader James Dewhurst. The company has experienced market penetration and rapid growth by expansion of 200 million yards in the five ears it has been active.
The Toccoa plant is located on Clary Connector. Its headquarters are located in the united Kingdom. The plant is owned by the company IRB via the SCDA. The plant started with 38 jobs, it currently has 80 employees.