Advances made on economic front

There is good news – for a change – looming on the economic horizon for Toccoa-Stephens County.

The Stephens County Industrial Development Authority has been instrumental in securing commitments for two new industries to locate in our community.

The first is a Michigan-based wood components manufacturing company, as yet unidentified, that will locate in Meadowbrook Industrial Park in the Eastanollee area.

The company is expected to create 12 new jobs when it begins operations by November.

Also announced this week was the news that Crown Resources, a maker of drainage, filtration, asphalt overlay and erosion sedimentation control applications, will move its Greer, S.C., operations to the Rooker spec building in the Hayestone Brady Park.

The building is located adjacent to Highway 17 and bulldozers and other equipment could be seen working at the site the last two weeks.

Crown will bring with it 20 jobs.

That's a total of 32 new jobs for Toccoa-Stephens County, not a lot by high economic development standards – the 32 won't even replace the 100 or so jobs lost earlier this year when an industrial plant closed its Toccoa operations – but it is a start.

In these difficult economic times, when competition for new industry is beyond fierce, it should make the community feel better that some headway is being made in the creation of jobs for Toccoa-Stephens County.

To put it bluntly, 32 jobs is better than zero jobs created.

Also on a positive note on the economic development front, was the news last week that the development authority, because of less than expected contractual costs, will expand its work plan in the Hayestone-Brady industrial park.

The authority is utilizing proceeds from a special purpose local options sales tax (SPLOST) to build the park. That means infrastructure improvements such as roads, water, sewer, gas and electricity.

A recent visit to the park construction site showed considerable activity as roads are being cut and some sites leveled and prepared for potential new industrial prospects.

When completed, Hayestone-Brady will certainly be the centerpiece of Toccoa-Stephens County's industrial recruitment program.

With the completion of the park – and the much-awaited construction of a four-lane Highway 17 – Toccoa-Stephens County will take a back seat to no other community when it comes to showcasing building sites for potential industrial residents.

Our economy will not turn around from 10 percent unemployment to full employment overnight because of these two new industries and the ongoing construction of the new industrial park.

However, there is cause for optimism that with the advances of recent days we are headed to a much brighter future filled with jobs, an increased tax base and heftier payrolls supporting local consumer spending.

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