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Sunday July 5th, 2015 11:00AM

Municipal Assoc. members look at new economic approach

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
OAKWOOD - Hall County's cities want a more unified and concentrated effort aimed at economic development.

At 2013's first meeting of the Hall County Joint Municipal Association Tuesday night at Oakwood City Hall, representatives from eight member cities agreed that they want to look into it after hearing from Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew.

"I think the key word for all the effort we're making is partnership," Andrew said. "We want a partnership with all the cities and the county and we want a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council. We want to work together on providing a new plan that includes all of our interests and moves us forward."

Andrew's proposal drew positive comments from city leaders including Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan and Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs and other association members who said they want a fresh approach.

According to Andrew the idea of a county wide economic development plan grew out of an effort by the south Hall cities of Buford, Braselton, Flowery Branch and Oakwood to secure federal Housing and Urban Development funding for economic planning.

"We didn't receive that funding from H.U.D. but we learned a lot from the experience and the process," Andrew recalled. "We've been discussing it with Gainesville, they want to be a part of it and now the County's acting interested in being a part of the process too so we're studying it as a whole now."

Andrew pointed to signs that the economy is improving.

"I know in Flowery Branch we've seen some activity recently" he added. "Just this week we've had people asking about housing starts and buildings they're looking at for purchase. Things are beginning to turn around."

RENAISSANCE BILL GETS SUPPORT

Municipal Association members expressed interest and support for a new economic measure introduced Tuesday in the state legislature.

Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller said the Renaissance bill would help Georgia cities including Flowery Branch develop their downtown areas.

"It will give tax credits and incentives for businesses and residents in a downtown area to revitalize the economic development component for those areas," Miller said.

Miller added the bill, if passed, would speed up revitalization; the measure was proposed by the Georgia Municipal Association.
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