The city has a plan for economic development.
Now it needs to work out the details, the plan’s authors say.
During the Aug. 7, 2012 city council work session meeting the city’s Economic Development Advisory Committee presented its 21-page report how to grow the city’s economy. The committee, chaired by Jim Comerford, managing director of Proscenium Capital, is made up of representatives from different professions within the business community.
The committee has developed the plan since January. There are also eight subcommittees of the whole that will be focusing on specific areas, the report says.
“The focus of the plan really deals with, both creating a plan…. and laying the intellectual framework for development within the city,” Comerford told the council.
The economic report will be updated annually, according to the information the council received.
The report says the committee will need to revise it once the city sees and adopts its city center master plan, currently being developed by Boston-based consultant Goody Clancy and slated for release sometime this fall.
The committee’s report provides a broad outline of strategies the city should pursue in attracting new businesses to the community.
Goals include recruiting small and large businesses, retaining existing businesses and increasing occupancy rates in commercial buildings.
The committee suggested the city should focus on redevelopment of existing retail space.
“To encourage redevelopment and renovation of existing properties, the city has to ensure that its business climate, including zoning and development regulations and processes, encourages redevelopment,” the report says. “Collaboration with area residents, businesses and property owners to identify improvements that will facilitate redevelopment of the city’s distinct commercial areas should be a priority.”
The committee in its report also tried to balance the needs of the residents with businesses. The city center should be a hub for community activities, the plan says. It also encourages the council to “preserve and develop” neighborhoods and create a marketing campaign promoting the city to businesses.
Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny asked Comerford it there can be more neighborhood input into the committee’s activities. She also said many of the companies on the committee list represent commercial real estate interests.
Comerford said the committee members live in Sandy Springs and said the committee would welcome additional input. He also encouraged the council to get involved, too.
Mayor Eva Galambos said the plan isn’t intended to pit residents against businesses.
“I do not think this is business versus neighborhoods or neighborhoods versus business,” Galambos said. “We’re all together. We’ve all got the same interests.”
The committee said the plans’ guiding principles should be collaboration, innovation, quality of life and results.
The collaboration principle recommends the city of Sandy Springs work closely with the city of Dunwoody, saying the economic growth of the two cities benefit each other.
It’s the next step for a council that has made economic growth a top priority.
In the 2012 fiscal year, the city council set aside $175,000 for economic development. The city has also budgeted $300,000 for its downtown master plan. In October of last year the city approved an economic incentives policy to lure businesses with tax breaks and waiving certain fees.
Councilwoman Dianne Fries said the plan the council saw will grow and become more detailed.
“To me this was just the basis of what they’re starting,” Fries said.
Economic Development Advisory Committee members are:
Jim Comerford, Proscenium Capital, Chairman
Graham McDonald, O’Daniel McDonald, LLC, Vice Chairman
Chris Burnett, Cornerstone Bank
Pat Chesser, Ackerman and Company
Eric deGroot, Holland America Chamber
Daniel DiLuzio, DiLuzio & Henssler
Mark Hackner, FOG Capital
Allan Herrick, Sapient Atlanta
Tom Mahaffey, Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce
Tom Miller, Grubb & Ellis
Kevin Moyer, KAM Asset Management
Charlie Roberts, Roberts Properties
Dr. Josephine Tan, Georgia Power