Despite the nation’s ongoing financial problems, Cobb County has maintained its triple AAA rating for our General Obligation bonds since 1997. We are one of approximately 20 counties nationwide to achieve this status placing Cobb in the top 1 percent of counties nationwide.
Additionally, in 2001 the Cobb County Water System became the first county in the nation to earn the triple AAA rating for an unenhanced water and sewer system.
Home Depot announced that it will build a new customer support center in the Town Center area and create 700 new jobs by the year 2015. The new facility will support the company’s growing online business through email, live chat, calls and sales support.
Other new company relocation and expansion announcements this year include MiMedx, CCH Small Firm Services, Novelis, Walmart Regional HQ, and Osmotica Pharmaceuticals. These announcements mean the creation of a combined total of about 1,300 new jobs in Cobb County.
State and local dignitaries gathered recently at the former Naval Air Station Atlanta for the ribbon cutting of the Georgia National Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters. The three-story headquarters building is more than 220,500 square feet and will provide work space for up to 700 personnel. It is estimated that more than 1,500 Georgia Guard soldiers and airmen will eventually perform training on the property. The facility is a certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The Atlanta Regional Commission awarded Cobb County a $125,000 Livable Centers Initiative grant to promote quality growth and enhance livability in the Six Flags Corridor. The study will explore how to take advantage of the area’s potential for mixed-use centers, strengthen existing industrial uses and improve mobility and accessibility to all modes of transportation. Once the study plan is complete, it will be eligible for a larger amount of federal funding to implement recommended projects.
Cobb County, in partnership with its community healthcare organizations, secured $500,000 in a Community Transformation Grant available through the 2010 Affordable Healthcare Act. These grant proceeds will be used to develop and implement a county-wide plan to reduce chronic disease in our area and to strengthen and enhance partnerships for a more unified and comprehensive approach to health care issues.
Cobb was officially designated a “camera-ready” community by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development in March. Camera ready is a designation by the state to offer film and television production companies easier, faster and better access to local resources and information.
The county secured additional Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding. This money will continue to be used to help Cobb stem the decline of home values by acquiring and rehabilitating foreclosed properties in areas of greatest need. It includes first-time homeowner’s assistance and will allow many people to become homeowners.
Cobb County hosted a successful visit with a delegation from its Sister City Seongdong-Gu from Seoul, Korea, in April 2011. The delegation included elected officials (mayor and council), representatives from the local school district and Korean business community.
The county continued to add functionality and information to its Geographical Information System mapping. This year, tax assessor information such as Year Built and Square Footage Data were added. They also added common places and state dams to GIS maps. In addition, the application was updated and development tools were added.
The county’s Community Development Block Grant program office was relocated from private office space to a county-owned building. The savings resulting from this will mean more funding could be available for projects and programs eligible for CDBG funding.
A portion of the Six Flags Enterprise Zone in south Cobb was formally designated as an “Opportunity Zone” by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs in October 2011. Businesses in this area that provide a minimum of two new jobs on or after Jan. 1, 2011 are eligible for job tax credits which they may use against their Georgia income taxes or claim the excess credits against their withholding taxes.
During 2011, the Community Development Agency led a team of county staff in designing four major regulatory and policy initiatives: the South Cobb Implementation Strategy, the Vinings Vision Plan, the Redevelopment Inventory Update and amendments to the development standards. Each of these initiatives will lead to improvements in the community’s quality-of-life, encourages private market investment to expand economic activity and produces efficiency in land use, transportation and economic development to ensure that Cobb County grows in a safe and stable manner.
The South Cobb Implementation Strategy was an effort to explain the unified vision for south Cobb through various initiatives that are occurring in the Six Flags, Mableton and River Line areas. This strategy describes the various accomplishments in this community of the last five years and sets a detailed work program for how various county departments will continue working towards community improvements. This implementation strategy serves as a point of discussion where Cobb County departments can work with members of the Six Flags/Austell community, Mableton community, local area non-profits, the United Way Opportunity Zone and the private development community to foster partnerships and actions that will be mutually beneficial. Also the items in the strategic plan ensure that individual actions are working in collaboration to the larger goal of community improvements and investments.
The Vinings Vision Plan is the county’s first master plan for one of the oldest and most historic areas of the county. Residents and businesses in the Vinings village have had growing concerns over the last decade about traffic congestion and increased development intensity. These concerns produced this policy and public involvement effort to help establish a series of transportation improvements, some land use guidelines, and an effort to identify, promote and nurture the area’s positive attributes to help build sense-of-place and civic pride. A draft document will be presented to the Board of Commissioners in February 2012 for consideration.
The redevelopment inventory update is an effort to identify specific target locations where redevelopment would be encouraged through existing incentives, regulations, and continuous marketing to assist in removing an area of potential blight from harming the surrounding community. As a means of updating the target list, Community Development and Economic Development staff worked together to develop a framework for how sites would be reviewed to ensure we are encapsulating a variety of opportunities for the redevelopment needs of Cobb County. The final product for this initiative is a searchable database with graphical and mapping capabilities that will assist in promoting the sites most in need of new investment.
Finally, the Community Development Agency along with the Department of Transportation, Water, Stormwater Management, and the Fire Marshall have made a series of adjustments to the county’s development standards that removed some regulatory barriers that inhibited redevelopment activity in the past. This was done in an effort to support redevelopment activity in appropriate areas by encouraging development in areas with existing infrastructure and supporting the private sector in efforts to reuse vacant and underutilized properties.