The Stone Mountain Community Improvement District (CID) is seeking public input on a plan to create 2,000 jobs in the business park by the end of 2013.
“Our goal is to fill…empty buildings in our area to create those jobs,” said Emory Morsberger, president of the CID. “We’re creating a plan that will cause the results that we’re seeking.”
The group is developing its strategic plan as part of its participation in the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) Livable Centers Initiative and will gather public input about the plan during a meeting Aug. 15.
Grants from the ARC and DeKalb Development Authority have been used to hire Jacobs Engineering and Market Street Services to craft a vision that attracts investors, businesses and new jobs into the area.
The Stone Mountain CID is working with Georgia Piedmont Technical College, DeKalb County School District, DeKalb County’s economic development and planning departments and Georgia officials to develop the plan, Morsberger said.
The planning process, which began in June and will be completed in November, is addressing three areas of interest to the CID.
The first area is physical improvements to the infrastructure of the industrial park, Morsberger said.
The group wants to fix “roads and intersections where a large tractor trailer can’t get around a curb without jumping the curb or running into somebody,” Morsberger said.
When many of the roads were constructed in the 1970s, tractor trailers were 60 feet long, Morsberger said. Now, they are 80 feet long.
“Intersections built 30-40 years ago don’t accommodate tractor trailers that are built today,” he said.
The CID is also looking to streamline county processes for acquiring business licenses, certificates of occupancy and proper zoning
“There have been a lot of businesses that have left our area because of county process problems,” Morsberger said.
“If you want to expand your company, and it takes a year to get the zoning to do that, then you are probably going to be expanding your company into a new location in Gwinnett County,” Morsberger said. “You are not going to wait a year.”
Morsberger said the community improvement district is working with the county address the red tape in county processes.
“It is also cumbersome to get business licenses in the county, “Morsberger said.
“If it takes too long to get a business license, you’re going somewhere else,” he said. “We’re finding that we have lost businesses because it is too much hassle to work with the process.”
The CID wants “to improve the processes so that we keep our existing companies growing and attract new companies,” Morsberger said. “That’s the only way we’re going to get those 2,000 jobs.”
Morsberger said the CID is also studying how to best market and improve the image of the industrial park “to makes people want to locate in the Stone Mountain CID.”
The strategic plan being developed will be the road map that the CID actually follows, Morsberger said.
“A lot of times consultants just get paid to produce studies and then the study sits on the shelf,” Morsberger said. “We’re not going to create a plan that can’t be done. We’re creating a plan and we’re going to do it.
“If we have to change DeKalb County in order to succeed, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “We’re not working against the county. The county wants us to succeed. This is a team effort.”
The CID’s economic planning kickoff event will be Aug. 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Eagle Rock Distributing – 1375 Beverage Drive, Stone Mountain. To attend the meeting, contact Amanda Hatton at email@example.com or (678) 333-0476.