The Home Depot opened its new customer support center in the Town Center area and will create 700 new jobs by the year 2015. From this new facility the company will support its growing online business through email, live chat, calls and sales support. Other new company relocation and expansion announcements this year include Novelis, Talenti Gelato, Alorica, Manhattan Associates, Infosys and Kaiser Permanente. The combined total of new jobs created from these developments is approximately 1,650.
Our fiscal conservatism is reflected in our consistent “Triple A” for our General Obligation bonds since 1997 from the three major rating agencies. This places Cobb in the top 1 percent of counties nationwide and puts us in the best possible position to seize the moment for continued improvement of our community.
Construction of 100,000 square feet of new hangar space at Cobb County Airport-McCollum Field is nearly complete and will provide additional hangar opportunities for corporate aircraft operators to base at the airport. The project was constructed at no cost to the county by Atlanta Executive Jet Center, a based operator at the airport.
During 2012, the Community Development Agency led a team of county staff in completing two major regulatory and policy initiatives: the state required update to the Comprehensive Plan and the Vinings Vision Plan. It also started a new policy initiate called the Northwest Cobb Land Vulnerability Analysis.
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 about traffic congestion and increased development intensity. These concerns produced this policy to help establish a series of transportation improvements, some land use guidelines, new trails and public spaces, and an effort to identify, promote and nurture the area’s positive attributes to help build sense-of-place and civic pride. After considerable public input and involvement, the strategy was approved by Board of Commissioners in July.
The Comprehensive Plan for Cobb County is the official policy document for elected officials, county staff, property owners and businesses about how Cobb County will grow over the next 20 years. It includes recommendations for actions, infrastructure investments and public services so we can ensure we are growing in a manner that maintains the excellent quality-of-life that our community expects. The State of Georgia requires two major updates to county and city comprehensive plans once every 5 years and once every 10 years. The 2012 5-year update was developed in a fiscally sound manner respecting the financial times we are in while striving to continue to meet the varying needs of the community.
The Northwest Cobb Land Vulnerability Analysis is a policy initiative involving land use, transportation, water and public health. The purpose of this initiative is to look at the growth challenges of the area, understand how these concerns impact land use, and finally to evaluate the current growth strategy to ensure it is adequate due to a number of changing conditions. Northwest Cobb is an area with some of the lowest intensity land uses in all of Cobb County largely due to Lake Allatoona, which is one of the region’s major drinking water resources.
Community Development Agency worked with the District Three commissioner and Economic Development on redevelopment needs on Canton Road. It also coordinated a number of joint code enforcement sweeps in targeted areas as well as successfully implemented Georgia Immigration Reform Act requirements into business license processes. And it oversaw a large increase in permitting and building activity.
The county, through its Community Development Block Grant/Neighborhood Stabilization Program Office and in partnership with Walton Communities, used approximately $4 million in NSP funding provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to complete a major renovation of a 236-unit apartment complex in the Austell area. This funding has been used to help Cobb stem the decline of home values as well as multi-family apartment complexes by acquiring and rehabilitating foreclosed properties in areas of greatest need and will allow many working individuals and families to become homeowners.
Currently there are two major transportation projects occurring that are intended to assist high growth areas in Paulding and Bartow Counties in accessing Interstate 75. Also, there is limited sewer availability and some concerns about the functionality of some of the aging septic systems in the area. These infrastructure challenges may impact existing and future businesses and property owners, so staff is proactively looking at land use and environmental needs. Public meetings will occur in early 2013 to obtain feedback from the community and a draft will be presented to the Board of Commissioners in the first quarter of 2013.
Cobb County, a designated “camera-ready” community by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office, has seen its film permit activity increase by approximately 53 percent in 2012. Camera Ready is a designation put in place by the state to offer film and television production companies easier, faster and better access to local resources and information.
In 2011, the Tax Assessors’ Office for the first time mailed Assessment Notices to all 250,000 owners of taxable real estate in Cobb County. While this resulted in a record number of appeals in 2011, that number dropped off significantly in 2012. Printing and mailing of these notices using a contractor in 2012 saved the county more than $12,000 and countless hours in improved efficiency.
A Cobb County delegation lead by Chairman Tim Lee traveled to Seoul, Korea to visit our Sister City Seongdong-Gu in October. The delegation was comprised of government officials, chamber of commerce officials and educators (including the superintendent of a local school district). Through this initiative we have enhanced our cultural, educational and business development ties with our Sister City.