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Graves wants to stir job creation
Seeks advice from advisory commission
Graves Gravitt
Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, right, talks with U.S. Rep. Tom Graves during the congressman’s visit Monday. - photo by Jennifer Sami
U.S. Rep. Tom Graves touted his economic advisory council on Monday as he wrapped up a three-day tour of the 15-county 9th District in Cumming.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt and a couple of local business owners attended the meeting to weigh in on the problems facing the Forsyth County area.

Also in attendance were District 23 state Rep. Mark Hamilton, who is serving as a council ex-officio, and District 51 state Sen. Chip Pearson, chairman of the council.

“I wasn’t necessarily looking for something else to do, but when my congressman calls, I answer ‘yes,’” said Pearson, whose district includes some of north Forsyth.

Pearson said the goal is to generate ideas from the business community and elected officials “to bring forth real ideas that will result in the creation of jobs and a turnaround in this economy.”

Graves, who was elected last month to complete the final months of former Rep. Nathan Deal’s term, said he has seen no ideas from a private sector perspective. That’s what inspired him to start the 70-plus member council.

“If no one else is going to lead, we’ll do that,” he said. “For the last three weeks, I’ve been voting no quite a bit because options coming out of Washington aren’t acceptable on Main Street and they’re not creating jobs.

“I want to be able to stand there and say not only am I not supportive of what’s being proposed, I’m bringing a solution, an alternative, one that will work and one that’s driven and derived from business leaders from across north Georgia.”

Graves, who also is seeking the Republican nomination for the House seat in the July 20 primary, said unemployment could be cut in half if one in three businesses hire a new employee.

As it stands, however, confidence is low.

Business owner Scott Muse, owner of Scott’s Auto Center, confirmed the fear.

“I’ve wanted to open a new facility and one of the reasons I haven’t is because of the fear of the unknown,” Muse said.

Gravitt said while the city works to help businesses flourish, there’s too many hurdles at the federal level. As a result, there’s little hope for “a lot of the small businesses [that] fell through the cracks in the last couple of years.”

“There’s too much red tape to get back in business,” he said. “We have so many hoops to jump through at the state and federal level.”

Graves asked the businesses, Gravitt and state leaders to support ideas from area businesses and find out what solutions would bring jobs back to north Georgia.

“Give me the opportunity to go forth with solutions that are private-sector driven, that come from entrepreneurs themselves who say instead of Wall Street, instead of big banks ... let’s get it from Main Street for once and get the right ideas out there to get jobs created,” Graves said.

Don Madda with local consulting group NDM Resources, as well as several other local business owners, will join Muse on the advisory council.

The panel will hold monthly conference calls and quarterly meetings. The first session is scheduled for late August.

Michele Hester of the DCN regional staff contributed to this report.