The Thread Trail Lagrange, GA

In September 2016, the City of LaGrange, GA adopted a plan to construct 29 miles of interconnected multimodal trails throughout the city.  Known as The Thread Trail, the non-motorized and environmentally-friendly facility will provide a safe place to walk, cycle and hold special events.

The Thread Trail’s estimated cost is $23 million and would be funded over a 15 year period with a Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The first phase of The Thread Trail began in early 2017 as a demonstration “model mile” anchored around Granger Park.

According to the Trust for Public Land, property values near parks and trails are frequently higher than properties located where there is little or no greenspace. Increasing property values frequently leads to a corresponding increase in property tax revenues generated.

Georgia Tech’s Center for Economic Development Research will be working closely with the city to establish a baseline value of properties in close proximity to the trail. The values of these parcels will be tracked over time and compared to properties elsewhere in the city in order to demonstrate the positive impact on property values and to help measure the economic benefits of The Thread Trail.

For project-related questions, contact:

Alan Durham

Phone: 404-385-5137

Email: ude.hcetag.etavonninull@mahrud.nala

In Progress: Fannin County EDRP Study

This spring, officials with the Fannin County Development Authority submitted a winning application for a research grant through Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Research Program (EDRP). The research focuses on a study of Fannin’s labor market. It includes business leader surveys and community data analysis all to be conducted this summer.

Georgia Tech’s Center for Economic Development Research will lead the research. Researchers will define the county’s labor draw area, survey business leaders, and analyze detailed industry, occupational, and wage information. Researchers will analyze and assemble this information into a Labor Market Study that Fannin leaders can use to market to prospective business.

Blue Ridge, GA. Photo from the Fannin County Development Authority

The research team expects to complete at the end of August.

Learn more about the EDRP program here.

Clinch County Community Assessment

Across the nation, rural areas are facing challenges associated with shifts in demographic and economic trends. The most successful rural areas are those that are addressing their specific issues head-on. Clinch County is a rural county located in the southeastern part of Georgia with a population of approximately 6,800 people. Despite its small size, the county has an active and engaged development authority whose goal is straightforward — Grow Clinch. Over the past few years, the development authority has demonstrated its commitment to growing Clinch by hiring their first executive director and increasing their programming and activities. Using this momentum, the development authority requested a community assessment from Georgia Tech as part of EI2’s Economic Development Research Program (EDRP). The Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) developed a process to help Clinch County facilitate economic growth as effectively as possible.

At the onset of the project, CEDR conducted a review of existing documents, research reports, and work agendas relevant to Clinch County’s recent economic development initiatives, community planning, and visioning efforts. CEDR also gathered and analyzed secondary information on demographics, educational levels, housing characteristics, and income in an effort to understand the dynamics of Clinch County’s local economy. During the spring of 2016, CEDR’s economic development professionals traveled to Clinch County to conduct confidential one-on-one interviews with local stakeholders. CEDR staff also conducted confidential phone interviews with state and regional partners of Clinch County. Information collected in the local stakeholder and external partner interviews was synthesized to complete a SWOT analysis of Clinch County. Using findings from the SWOT analysis and secondary data collected, researchers identified and defined a group of industry segments for the county’s business attraction efforts.

Researchers provided recommendations to the Clinch County Development Authority (CCDA) derived from findings from the data collected, insights gained during the community and state partner interviews, and the target industry analysis. CEDR considered the following four characteristics as essential elements needed for inclusion in the recommendations:

  • broad base of community support,
  • data analysis pointing to existing gaps/needs,
  • tied to long-term community goals, and
  • impacts Clinch County’s economic development goal to “maintain a long-term sustainable and diverse economic base.”

Recommendations were grouped into seven overarching areas:

  1. workforce development,
  2. economic development product,
  3. support for existing business,
  4. cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit in the community,
  5. marketing,
  6. partnerships, and
  7. targeted business attraction.

Though the goals of this research project did not include a strategic plan with implementation guidelines, the recommendations and actions offered will help to enhance and strengthen the work of the CCDA. The assessment concluded that the development authority would need to continue brainstorming and collaborating with local partners so that its programs and activities are instilled with local knowledge.

For project-related questions, contact:
Candice McKie
Phone: 404-385-2053| Fax: 404-410-6910
Email: ude.hcetag.etavonninull@eikcm.ecidnac

Economic Resilience around the U.S. and in Georgia

This post is the second half of a series on economic resilience. It presents some successful practices from communities around the country and describes some resilience activities from communities in Georgia.

Mayor Kasim Reed has appointed Stephanie Stuckey Benfield as the city’s first Chief Resilience Officer. Photo : Stephanie Benfield, Twitter

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) recommends that communities develop plans to mitigate the impact of shocks to their economies and support long-term recovery efforts. This includes all communities, whether they are prone to natural disasters or deleterious economic shifts or not. All communities should be aware of their vulnerabilities and be prepared to withstand and respond to related shocks. Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Content Guidelines offer a number of resiliency strategies for economic development organizations to incorporate into their CEDS planning documents that accomplish this goal. Some economic resiliency initiatives are discussed below.

Initiatives around the US

Regions around the country have performed studies or outlined strategies to prepare for shocks. Below are just a few examples from other states that Georgia communities should consider.

North Central Florida: The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council (NCFRPC) completed a study in 2011 to assess the region’s ability to economically recover from natural disasters. The study consists of the following:

  • A hazards analysis to model hurricane-induced storm surges;
  • A vulnerability analysis to map developed areas and infrastructure at high flood risk;
  • A regional economic analysis to assess capital structure loss, job loss, and population loss from a hurricane; and
  • An economic resiliency discussion focused on the state’s Florida Business Disaster Tool Kit.

Mountainland Region Utah: The Mountainland Economic Development District (MEDD) updated their CEDS in 2013 and included a disaster and economic recovery and resiliency strategy. The section outlines MEDD’s commitments in the event of a disaster. It includes a phase describing efforts for pre-disaster preparedness and a phase devoted to post-disaster planning and implementation. It also defines MEDD’s role in post-disaster economic recovery. This includes restoring the economic base of disaster-impacted communities and identifying hazard-mitigation opportunities in concert with reconstruction.

Southeastern Vermont: Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) developed their CEDS in 2014. Their CEDS touched on many issues, including economic resiliency, but it stands out because of its focus on results. Its goals, objectives, and strategies focus on concrete actions with measurable outcomes. For example, an objective to act regionally includes a strategy to expand public, private, and non-profit collaboration which includes a measureable outcome: “The Southeastern Vermont region will achieve a good to excellent rating for best practices in regional CEDS and collaboration by end of 2018”.

The CEDS’ focus on results keeps the plan from collecting dust on a shelf. Instead, it becomes a checklist of action items that the implementation team can measure their progress against. To do this, they employed ViTAL Economy’s S.M.A.R.T. framework to guide the development of their strategy and action items. Applying it to economic resilience goals and objectives ensures meaningful implementation.

Resiliency in Georgia

Augusta-Richmond County: The consolidated government of Augusta-Richmond County began focusing on the long-term after it experienced economic downturns toward the end of the 20th century. Their efforts for economic resiliency involved three goals: attracting a diverse mix of businesses, enhancing their higher educational institutions, and encouraging investment in their historic downtown. With these goals and with their focus on the long term, the community now boasts a strong economic foundation. They have attracted a diverse mix of small and large businesses. Their university is growing with new properties downtown. The downtown is also growing with mixed-use developments and affordable housing. Their long-term focus on these three goals is also credited with the community’s ability to weather the effects of the Great Recession.

Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia: In 2014, the Coastal Regional Commission released the Resilience Plan for the Coast of Georgia. The plan examines the natural hazards of the region, its natural and built environment, and related proposals and programs. The purpose of the plan is to strengthen the region’s ability to avoid the impacts of natural hazards and to recover from the effects of natural hazards after the fact. One component of the plan involves an assessment of business vulnerability (included jobs and sales effected) in the event of a category 1 thru 5 tropical storm. The plan also includes recommendations for communities to engage businesses regarding continuity planning in the event of a crisis and recommends courses to help businesses plan for catastrophic events through the Small Business Administrations.

City of Atlanta: The latest resilience effort announced by a Georgia community is the City of Atlanta’s appointment of a Chief Resilience Officer, Stephanie Stuckey Benfield. This new position, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative, will lead city-wide efforts to address social, physical, and economic resiliency challenges. These include acute natural disasters such as hurricanes and fires, as well as “slow-moving” disasters like water shortages and unemployment. Some current resiliency projects include:

  • Converting the Bell Wood Quarry into a reservoir with a 30-day water supply;
  • Hiring an urban agriculture director tasked with bringing local, healthy food options to more Atlanta residents; and
  • Implementing the Renew Atlanta bond program to improve the city’s infrastructure.

Also of Interest: Economic resilience will be the focus of Georgia Tech’s 2017 Basic Economic Development Course—Economic Resilience: Building Capacity for Strong Communities (March 21, 2017-March 24, 2017). For more on the course, visit www.gt-bedc.org.

Sources

Note this discussion draws from the 2016 Georgia Economic Outlook Report prepared for the EDA University Center program, operated by Georgia Tech’s EI2.

Mountainland Economic Development District (MEDD). (2013). Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Update. Retrieved from: https://mountainland.org/img/Mountainland%20Full%20CEDS%2012-19-14-1.pdf.

National Association of Counties (NACO). (2013). Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience. Retrieved from: http://www.naco.org/sites/default/files/documents/Strategies%20to%20Bolster%20Economic%20Resilience.pdf.

North Central Florida Regional Planning Council (NCFRPC). (2011). Economic and Disaster Resiliency Study. Retrieved from: http://ncfrpc.org/Publications/EADRS/NCFRPC_EconomicAndDisasterResiliencyStudy.pdf.

Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategy (SeVEDS). (2013). 2014 S.M.A.R.T. CEDS Report. Retrieved from: http://seveds.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/FINALCEDSReport.2013.pdf.

United States Economic Development Administration (EDA). (2016). Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Content Guidelines. Retrieved from: https://www.eda.gov/ceds/.

University of Georgia (UGA). (2014). Hazard and Resiliency Plan for the Coast of Georgia. Retrieved from:  http://www.crc.ga.gov/publications/crccouncil/resiliency_plan_good.pdf.

City of Atlanta. (2016). Mayor Kasim Reed, In Partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, Appoints Stephanie Stuckey-Benfield as City of Atlanta’s First Chief Resilience Officer. Retrieved from: http://www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?page=672&recordid=4803.

For questions, contact:

Sam Pugh

Phone: 404-894-3851 | Fax: 404-410-6910
Email: ude.hcetag.etavonninull@hgup.mas

Rodrick Miller to Talk Economic Resilience at Georgia Tech’s 50th BEDC

Rodrick Miller, CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) will serve as the keynote speaker on the topic of economic resilience for the 50th Annual Georgia Tech Basic Economic Development Course, being held in Atlanta March 21st – 24th, 2017.

Miller is a leader on the subject of economic resilience, leveraging the competitive advantages of cities like New Orleans and Detroit to create robust and economically diverse communities. Miller helped launch the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), the official economic development organization for the city. Since its founding in 2011, NOLABA has been focused on lowering barriers to entry in the marketplace, increasing transparency, and developing strategies for urban economic growth. The organization has helped attract $600 million in new investment and 4,000 new jobs to the New Orleans market, strengthening the local economy and building its resilience to future economic shocks.

The National Association of Counties (NACO) describes economic resilience as a community’s ability to foresee, adapt to, and leverage changing conditions to their advantage. Similarly, the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) content guidelines note that economic resilience has three primary attributes: 1) The ability to recover quickly from a shock; 2) The ability to withstand a shock; and 3) The ability to avoid the shock altogether.

These types of shocks may include downturns in the national or global economy that impact the demand for local goods and spending, downturns of particular industries critical to local economic activities, or external impacts such as natural or man-made disasters, military base closures or departure of a major employer, etc.

A region’s long-term economic prosperity is linked to its ability to deal with disruptions to its economic base. Economic shocks are inevitable, and communities need to be prepared. It is during the relatively prosperous times that communities need keep their focus on resiliency efforts. Economic developers play an important role in building their community’s economic resilience.

Join us on March 21st, 2017 at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center for the 50th Annual Basic Economic Development Course where we will explore economic resilience and other core economic development subject areas, meet and network with professionals in your industry from around the country, and learn best practices from some of the industry’s most respected experts. Transform your community. Register TODAY!

For questions, contact:
Leigh Hopkins, AICP
Phone: 404-894-0933 | Fax: 404-410-6910
Email: ude.hcetag.etavonninull@snikpoh.hgiel

What is Economic Resilience?

This post is the first half of a series discussing economic resilience. It offers some definitions of economic resilience and outlines resiliency initiatives. CEDR is spotlighting economic resiliency because it will be the focus of Georgia Tech’s 2017 Basic Economic Development Course — Economic Resilience: Building Capacity for Strong Communities (March 21, 2017-March 24, 2017). For more on the course, watch this short video or visit www.gt-bedc.org.

The National Association of Counties (NACO) describes economic resilience as a community’s ability to foresee, adapt to, and leverage changing conditions to their advantage. Similarly, the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Content Guidelines note that resiliency has three primary attributes:

  • The ability to recover quickly from a shock;
  • The ability to withstand a shock; and
  • The ability to avoid the shock altogether.

Shocks may include:

  • Downturns in the national or global economy impacting demand for local goods and spending;
  • Downturns of particular industries critical to local economic activities; and
  • External impacts such as natural or man-made disasters, military base closures or a major employer, changing climate, etc.

Though the Great Recession is in the rearview mirror, it is during the relatively prosperous times that communities need to keep their focus on resiliency efforts. Communities should prepare because economic shocks are always waiting around the corner. Since shocks are inevitable, as EDA notes, a region’s long-term economic prosperity is linked to its ability to deal with disruptions to its economic base.

Downtown Rome, Georgia

Economic developers play an important role in building a community’s economic resiliency. They must consider their role from the pre- and post-incident perspective. As a result, their strategies for economic resiliency fall into two camps defined below.

Steady-state Initiatives

These are pre-incident initiatives that focus on long-term efforts to improve the community’s ability to withstand or avoid shocks. Some examples include:

  • Comprehensive planning efforts that incorporate a vision for resiliency;
  • Implementing efforts to diversify the industrial base;
  • Adapting business retention programs to assist firms with recovery following a shock;
  • Developing a workforce that can shift between jobs and industries;
  • Using geographic information systems (GIS) to map business establishment data and available development sites, integrated with hazard information to allow for rapid post-incident impact assessments;
  • Ensuring redundancy in communication networks to protect commerce and public safety;
  • Promoting business continuity by ensuring businesses understand their vulnerabilities, such as their supply chains, in the face of disruptions; and
  • Employing safe development practices, such as locating structures outside of floodplains, preserving natural lands as buffers, and protecting existing development from extreme weather.

Responsive Initiatives

These are post-incident initiatives that focus on a community’s ability to react in the short-term to shocks and recovery needs. Some examples include:

  • Pre-disaster recovery planning that defines key stakeholders, roles, responsibilities, and actions;
  • Developing a system for regular communication, monitoring, and updating of business community needs for use after or during an incident;
  • Establishing the capability to rapidly contact key officials (local, regional, state, and federal) to relate business sector needs and impact assessments; and
  • Creating coordination mechanisms and leadership succession plans for short, middle, and long-term recovery needs.

Sources

Note this discussion draws from the 2016 Georgia Economic Outlook Report prepared for the EDA University Center program, operated by Georgia Tech’s EI2.

National Association of Counties (NACO). (2013). Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience. Retrieved from: http://www.naco.org/sites/default/files/documents/Strategies%20to%20Bolster%20Economic%20Resilience.pdf.

United States Economic Development Administration (EDA). (2016). Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Content Guidelines. Retrieved from: https://www.eda.gov/ceds/.

For questions, contact:

Sam Pugh

Phone: 404-894-3851 | Fax: 404-410-6910
Email: ude.hcetag.etavonninull@hgup.mas

Ramblin’ Wreck Print

From Alfie Meek, Ph.D.: 

At the end of all my presentations I show one of my favorite paintings of the famous 1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe that serves at the official Georgia Tech Ramblin’ Wreck.  A lot of people have asked where they can get a copy of the painting, so in the spirit of Christmas, if you want to get this print for your favorite Tech fan, you can find it here.

wreck

Fund Your Economic Research with EDRP

The mission of our Economic Development Research Program (EDRP) is to assist local communities by providing affordable economic development and policy research to enhance their competitive positions.

edrplogo

The types of research include strategic planning, forecasting, feasibility studies, readiness assessments, economic impact analysis, and labor market studies to name a few.

Registration is open throughout the year!

Have questions or want to apply? Contact:

Alfie Meek, Ph.D.

Director of the Center for Economic Development Research

Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

404-385-1340

ude.hcetag.etavonninull@keem.eifla

Company Expansions and New Locations with International Ownership Part Two: Gwinnett County

In the first half of this series, international companies’ locations and expansions in the State of Georgia were investigated using Georgia Department of Economic Development Data from the 2015 fiscal year. Gwinnett County stood out, with half of its new locations and expansions coming from international companies. In this post economic development strategies, demographic changes, and cultural assets that could affect international company locations in Gwinnett County are explored.

According to Partnership Gwinnett (a community and economic development initiative of the Gwinnett Chamber), the county is home to more than 600 international companies. Its website recently featured an article about the new location of Linhai Powersports USA, a Chinese-owned company in Norcross. Within the article, Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks was quoted saying, “Gwinnett’s vast international representation and skilled talent pool, not only help attract global companies such as Linhai to the community, but also enable them to thrive here.” Nick Masino, Senior Vice President and Chief Economic Development Officer at Partnership Gwinnett, credits metro area assets like Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and world-class educational institutions, the county’s award winning public school system, interstate access to northeast American markets, and Gwinnett’s established history as a leader in international business. When recruiting international companies, Masino is able to point to the multitude of successful international companies already in the county.

Figure 1: Foreign Born population in Atlanta Metro

Figure 1: Foreign Born population in Atlanta Metro

The recently updated Partnership Gwinnett 3.0 Economic Development Strategy and Implementation Plan refers to enhancing and expanding the approach to international business recruitment. The plan’s strategy focuses on fostering relationships through face-to-face interactions, such as visits to target markets. It stresses “consistency in follow-up with those relationships.” The plan also discusses creating “an atmosphere that is inviting and comforting to a foreign investor” as a way to set it apart from other communities.

“The cultural and educational ties that international investors and their family members may have to a community can often be as important as any business or government relationships in forming strong bonds that result in investment and trade.” (Partnership Gwinnett 3.0 Economic Development Strategy and Implementation Plan)

Figure 2: Hong Kong Supermarket in Norcross, GA

Figure 2: Hong Kong Supermarket in Norcross, GA

Demographic shifts over the past decade have made Gwinnett County one of the most diverse areas in the country. Of the Atlanta region, Gwinnett County saw the highest population growth between 2000 and 2010 growing by 37 percent—over 200,000 people. This growth is due in large part to new immigrant residents in the county. Today, American Community Survey data shows that one in four residents of Gwinnett County are foreign born (ACS, 5-year estimates, 2012). This is a higher share than any other county in the Atlanta region (Figure 1) and shows major change from 1990 (5.0 percent of total population in Gwinnett County was foreign born) and 2000 (16.9 percent). Gwinnett County is now “majority-minority” with a non-Hispanic white population at 42 percent (ACS, 5-year estimates, 2014).

pic5

Figure 3: Global Mall in Norcross, GA

The county is home to many organizations with programs and offerings that can benefit immigrants: Latin American Association, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Center for Pan Asian Community Services, and several bi-national chambers of commerce. The presence of these organizations results from the area’s growing immigrant community. Immigrant entrepreneurs have also responded to the demand for businesses that serve the diverse population by opening grocery stores like Hong Kong Supermarket (Figure 2) and shopping centers like Global Mall (Figure 3). Buford

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Figure 4: Buford Highway

Highway (Figure 4), Norcross, and other places in Gwinnett County have become cultural meccas in Atlanta for cuisine, festivals, and community. This perhaps draws back to the importance of cultural community ties for international investors and their family members to build strong bonds resulting in more investment and trade, referenced in the Partnership Gwinnett Plan.

 

A strategic and progressive economic development team, demographic shifts, and a thriving immigrant community all contribute to Gwinnett’s success in attracting and retaining international companies.

For questions, contact: 

Madi Shields

Phone: 404-385-5137 | Fax: 404-410-6910

Email: ude.hcetag.etavonninull@sdleihs.idam

Company Expansions and New Locations with International Ownership Part One: State of Georgia

This post is the first half of a series on international companies locating and expanding in Georgia using data provided by the Georgia Department of Economic Development. This part will look at the State of Georgia and the following post will focus on Gwinnett County.

According to data collected by Georgia Department of Economic Development, there were 331 expansions or new locations of companies in the state of Georgia in the 2015 fiscal year. Of these, 197 listed a country of ownership. 72 companies or 36.5 percent were internationally owned and these companies were responsible for 42 percent of the jobs created by expansions or new locations (with ownership data) in FY15.

These 72 companies came from 18 different countries (Figure 1). The top three countries of ownership were Germany (22.2 percent), South Korea (12.5 percent), and Japan (12.5 percent).

Figure 1: FY15 New Locations & Expansions, International Countries of Ownership

Figure 1: FY15 New Locations & Expansions, International Countries of Ownership

The international companies located or expanded in 31 Georgia counties (Figure 2). The top five counties for international company locations or expansions were Gwinnett, Fulton, Chatham, Richmond, and Hall.

Gwinnett County had nine international locations or expansions, the most of any county. Half of all new locations and expansions in Gwinnett County for FY15 were by international companies, in Fulton County the percentage was less than 20. China, Germany, and South Korea were the top countries of ownership for 2015 locations to Gwinnett. Three out of four companies with Chinese ownership locating or expanding in the state of Georgia were in Gwinnett County.

The next post will expand on international companies locating in Gwinnett County. It will review some of their economic development strategy and demographic shifts in the county.

Figure 2

Figure 2: FY15 New Locations & Expansions, international companies by county location in Georgia

 

For questions, contact: 

Madi Shields

Phone: 404-385-5137 | Fax: 404-410-6910

Email: ude.hcetag.etavonninull@sdleihs.idam