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Finance committee hears Forsyth County economic development plan
Economic plan

A new two-track economic development plan aimed at growing business in Forsyth County is one step closer to approval.

At a finance committee meeting Tuesday, President and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce James McCoy presented the plan’s budget summery to committee members, which include three county commissioners and two county employees.

The plan was first introduced at a June 6 Board of Commissioners work session, where McCoy explained what the county and Chamber roles would be.

Under the plan, he said, commissioners would provide policy oversight and resourcing, the Chamber would execute the plans, and the county’s Development Authority would implement the plans and have an administrative role. Commissioners would be regularly updated on projects.

At Tuesday’s meeting, McCoy broke down the costs associated with developing such a plan.

“The plan is broken into two parts and so is the budget,” he said. “There are the programming dollars – this would be in addition to what we are doing right now – and the other side of this is the work that would need to be done to get a five-year economic development plan complete.

“We are basing this off of the recommendation that was in the comprehensive plan itself and when we looked at other communities that have done this in the past five to 10 years, it’s a reasonable estimate for the consulting work.”

The estimated cost for both parts of the plan – the interim “surge” plan and the five-year strategic plan – would total $439,877.

The interim plan would make up the larger portion of that cost: $239,650. The five-year plan would cost $161,700.

However, $77,054 of that $439,877 has already been committed, bringing the net plan total to $362,823.

McCoy said that would be a relatively small investment compared to the potential amount of money it could bring in through new businesses.

“Looking back from 2011, if you just look at economic development, meaning everything but tourism, the total [spent] on that from 2011-2016 was $2.7 million,” he said. “That generated 5,000 jobs, nearly half a billion dollars of new capital investment – $496 million – and that is composed of 91 project announcements in that time.

“When I added the estimated property tax, we’re looking at [an additional] $16,181,000. When we ran those numbers, for every dollar [spent], we got back $350 in capital investment. Then when I took it the next step further and what the result of the taxes would be on that amount, for every dollar invested in terms of taxes back to the county, [we get] $8.63.”

District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson said these numbers show the necessity of having an economic development plan.

“The idea behind this plan is to take us into that proactive sphere,” she said. “Right now, we’re just kind of catching things and putting resources to them, but this will enable us to go out and hunt down business, instead of just waiting for it to come to us.”