City, County Hear from SCDA at Joint Meeting

Stephens County and Toccoa City Commissioners gathered Tuesday morning at the Cornerstone Restaurant in downtown Toccoa for a joint city-county meeting to discuss economic development.  During the meeting, both sides heard from Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin on two different topics:  the Big A Road and Toccoa By-pass sewer expansion project and economic incentives for prospective businesses.  On the topic of incentives, Martin said he would like some fresh input from city and county commissioners about what types of incentives they are willing to offer a prospective business.  “What if we had a company that wanted to move to the community and they were going to bring 100 jobs?” asked Martin.  “Would we talk to them about their tap fees for water, natural gas, wastewater?  What does the thought process look like?”  Martin said there is not always time to get that input on short notice if negotiating with a business over possible incentives.  Officials also noted that Stephens County has to compete with neighboring areas, like South Carolina, that are offering larger incentives for industries.  Meanwhile on the topic of expanding sewer down Big A Road and onto the Toccoa By-pass, Martin says work continues to try and obtain grants from federal and state sources to help build the project.  

Stephens County Unemployment Up in June

The preliminary June unemployment numbers show a rise in the unemployment rate for Stephens County.  According to the figures released last week by the Georgia Department of Labor, Stephens County had a preliminary unemployment rate of 8.8 percent in June which is   seven-tenths of a percentage point increase from the revised May rate of 8.1 percent.  In addition, June’s preliminary numbers also show a drop in the county’s labor force of about 100 from May, while the number of employed dropped by nearly 190 people and the number of unemployed rose by 84.   State Labor Department officials attribute the rising unemployment rates to large numbers of education workers being listed as unemployed during the summer months and new graduates that are considered unemployed until they find a job. 

Georgia Chamber President Visits Stephens County

President and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Chris Clark, met with local business and political leaders from Stephens and surrounding counties at the Currahee Club Thursday as part of the Georgia Chamber’s “Regional Power Lunch” series that has taken place across the state.  Clark told a full house that Georgia has seen a lot of positive economic news and appears to be headed in the right direction as a state. He also said that rural areas are lagging behind in some cases compared to more urban ones when it comes to economic development. “That has always been the case,” said Clark.  “It is always more difficult (for rural areas).  That is why we encourage local Chambers to take different approaches.  Let’s help the tourism sector.  Let’s grow small businesses.  Let’s help existing companies grow.” He added that while not all places will attract a large industry, communities can still grow and Clark said the Chamber encourages those areas to “think outside the box.”  Clark said a community must work to have a clear vision and set itself apart from other communities in order to attract growth.