Airport Terminal Groundbreaking

The Toccoa Stephens County Airport Authority breaks ground on its terminal. Local leaders gathered Monday for the groundbreaking ceremony at the airport on Tugalo Street in Toccoa. Toccoa-Stephens County Airport Authority Chairman John Taylor said this project will give the airport an official terminal, something it has not really had before. Completion is expected in the fall.

Toccoa Stephens County Fireworks Over Toccoa Day

By: Jessica Water, The Toccoa Record
More than 150 Stephens County representatives – from government and school officials to senior citizens and high school students – braved the snowy drive to Atlanta for the Toccoa-Stephens County Day at the Georgia State Capitol on Feb. 10.

The yearly meet-and-greet at the Gold Dome offers a dual benefit, according to event organizers from the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce and the Stephens County Development Authority.

Keeping Stephens County residents, concerns, priorities and agendas in the forefront of legislative minds is only one side of the story.

The trip – which includes a chance to observe both the house and the senate at work – gives residents a chance to see the behind-the-scenes workings of the Georgia Legislature and to get an idea of legislation that makes its way through the house and senate each day of the session.

This year’s visit to the capitol also served to highlight a novel that has brought attention to Toccoa and has been touted by county leaders as an important promotional tool to bring recognition and attention to Toccoa-Stephens County.

During the day-long event at the state Capitol, the Georgia Legislature passed resolutions in both chambers declaring Feb. 10 as Toccoa-Stephens County Fireworks over Toccoa Day, in recognition of Jeffrey Stepakoff’s novel, “Fireworks Over Toccoa.”

Coordinated by the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce, the day’s events featured a legislative orientation and briefing, proclamations, lunch and photo sessions with state officials.

Signed copies of Stepakoff’s “Fireworks over Toccoa” were placed on legislators’ chamber desks in both the House and Senate, compliments of publisher St. Martin’s Press.

Local residents and leaders also had the opportunity to meet with legislative officials to discuss topics critical to the city and county as well as statewide issues such as education funding and transportation.

GEDA Recognizes Hayestone Brady Business Park as GRAD Certified

Stephens County's Hayestone Brady Business Park was officially recognized as a Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) site on Monday. Pictured are (from left) Corey Shiflet, chairman of the development auhtority's product development committee, Georgia Department of Economic Development commissioner Chris Cummiskey, development authority administrative assistant Kayla Carpenter and development authority executive director, Tim Martin.

Pursuing Opportunity Zone for Global Partitions

Stephens County will pursue enterprise zone status for additional industrial properties in an effort to promote economic development. Tuesday, Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director appeared before county commissioners to request a resolution for an enterprise zone for Global Partitions. Stephens County Commissioners approved the resolution unanimously and it will be forwarded to the state as part of the application.

Hayestone-Brady Business Park receives GRAD

The Hayestone-Brady Business Park joins just a few other industrial parks in Georgia as the recipient of a specialized certification.

Wednesday, the Stephens County Development Authority announced that the Highway 17 business park had received Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development certification.

GRAD certification as it is called is awarded by a public-private economic development marketing partnership called Georgia Allies.

Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin said the GRAD certification involves a rigorous process.

“It forced us to work through the property ownership, the infrastructure in terms of utilities, the weight-bearing capacity of the land, and the presence of wetlands or any cultural resources,” said Martin. “All of those fronts we now have answers on and if they are in the future a concern to someone, we can allay those concerns up front.”

Martin went on to say that the information gathered during the GRAD certification process provides knowledge that businesses want before picking a site.

He said that advance knowledge gives Stephens County and Hayestone-Brady Business Park an advantage.

“Companies do not like surprises,” explained Martin. “When a company looks at a community and wants to consider it for relocation, investment, and jobs, it wants to be confident that the information it receives about that site is current and accurate.”

According to Martin, only a handful of industrial sites in the state have achieved GRAD certification, which gives Hayestone-Brady another advantage.

Other local officials are also expressing their excitement over the news.

Toccoa Mayor Janice English, Stephens County Commission Chairman J.B. Hudgins, and Development Authority Chairman Cam Parker all say the certification will set Hayestone-Brady apart from the pack for industrial development.
The Hayestone-Brady Business Park joins just a few other industrial parks in Georgia as the recipient of a specialized certification.

Charlie Bauder, WNEG