Forsyth County and the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce could soon have a new way of doing business.
Chamber President and CEO James McCoy presented county commissioners with a new two-track economic development plan on Tuesday at the commission’s work session aimed at growing county business. The plan will be discussed again at the commission’s July 11 work session.
“I think everyone is this room probably knows a huge issue in our community is the commercial portion of our tax digest,” McCoy said.
Under the plan, 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 will be regularly updated on projects.
If approved, the Chamber will work with the Development Authority to work on a contract and the bid process.
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills echoed McCoy’s concerns of the tax base relying too much on property taxes.
“Unfortunately, the bedroom community came in so aggressively and they put these nice developments in commercial corridors,” she said. “Then when commercial tries to come in, the bedroom community tries to keep it out, and it becomes such political hot topics.”
McCoy said for each dollar invested to the county for economic development, $358 has been generated for commercial taxes.
The new plan was the result of a meeting in February where recommendations were given to form a group to look at the county’s tax abatement and economic incentive policies.
The plan will be divided into two portions — a five-year plan as recommended in the update to the county’s comprehensive plan and an interim, or surge, plan while those goals are being reached.
For the five-year plan, work will include establishing dialogue with the community, an analysis of economic opportunities, a marketing plan and budget and funding recommendations. A consultant will need to be hired.
Of the approximately $195,000 for the plan, about $33,000 has been committed. The consulting firm will make up the largest expense at $150,000, and personnel will cost $35,700.
The surge plan will involve staffing, marketing and communications, websites, billboards, travel and other items to reach potential businesses.
That plan will cost an estimated $204,000, with the largest amounts coming from: personnel, $86,000; marketing and communications, $76,350; and direct engagement activities, $34,000.
Commissioners will make a final decision in July to allow time to look at funding sources.
McCoy said the Chamber board and executive committee, a stakeholder group and a subcommittee that drafted the plan have all endorsed it unanimously. The Development Authority previously agreed to the plan.