Local Elected Officials Speak

Mayor Pro Tem, George Sadosuk, City of Dalton

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What opportunity are you most excited about in your city?      For the past few years the City has been looking into the possibly of having a “downtown campus” for Dalton State College, for both academic classes and dormitories.   A downtown campus would greatly enhance the downtown area and give DSC an area for greater growth. Also, the reboot of Dalton State College athletics has a lot to do with Dalton’s competitive nature.

Coming out of an economic downturn, what lingering effects has the environment had on your community and what are you doing to address them?  The City has a large number of both commercial and residential properties that are in foreclosure or have been abandoned by their owners.  Many of these have absentee owners or in foreclosure by out-of-town banks.  Neither seems to take any pride or interest in keeping the properties in a presentable condition.  The City has increased our Code Enforcement efforts.  Code Enforcement has now been placed under the Police Department and is handled by a POST mandated officer.  Since being implemented about a year ago, progress can be seen in many areas, especially in our residential subdivisions.

The Great Recession was hard on Dalton and our workforce.  Perhaps most concerning was the way the recession challenged the belief in the American Dream for our younger generations.  Each young person had to wonder, “Can I live a life that surpasses that of my parents?”   We want to renew that faith by focusing resources on the younger generations.  Moreover, our community has invested in still more opportunities in higher education such as the brand new Georgia Northwestern campus.  Last but not least we will continue to support the next generation with early age education, health and wellness initiatives at our state-of-the-art Gaston Community Center.

What else would you like the business community to know about your community? The City of Dalton is in excellent financial condition with the City’s Find Balance being nearly doubled in the past six (6) years.  Property taxes have been lowered by approximately 25%; downtown business property taxes have been cut in half; business licenses have been reduced, some by as much as 50%, all the while, City provided services have been maintained at a constant level.  City Departments, along with Dalton Utilities, work closely with the Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority to ensure the permitting process for new developments is expedited.  The City has a first class utility, with high speed fiber optics throughout the entire City.  Dalton welcomes new businesses as well as appreciating the existing manufacturing industry.  I want the business community to understand under no uncertain terms that we are the most competitive city in America.  Dalton has made its mark on the world but more importantly we aren’t finished.  Our competitive juices are flowing like never before.  Businesses should come be part of what we’ve got going here.

Mayor, Kenny Gowin, City of Tunnel Hill

ImageWhat opportunity are you most excited about in your city?  We’re hoping to add wastewater infrastructure to a greater part of our business district along Hwy 41.  This is the first phase of several that could eventually lead to covering the entire City.  There are obstacles to overcome, but it’s exciting and could happen.

Coming out of an economic downturn, what lingering effects has the environment had on your community and what are you doing to address them?   We were a bedroom community before the downturn and we’re still a bedroom Community.  However, any chance for business growth was stymied during the past five years.  We’re hoping, by addressing our lack of a wastewater system, it’ll help provide a better climate for businesses interested in Tunnel Hill.

What else would you like the business community to know about your community? The City of Tunnel Hill does not have its own property tax, nor a business tax, and your corporate or industrial class one, two, and three inventory is 100% exempt.  We also have two major distribution routes that run through our corporate limits; one is I-75 and the other is U.S. Hwy 41.  Both have good properties available and the I-75 area (along Hwy 201) already has wastewater lines operational.

Mayor, Anthony Hulsey, City of Varnell

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What opportunity are you most excited about in your city?       I am looking forward to seeing Varnell grow. I hope to encourage businesses to establish in Varnell to help promote growth and provide more convenience to Varnell citizens. I would also like to see more citizens that are eligible to annex into the city to come in and to provide more community events and involvement.

Coming out of an economic downturn, what lingering effects has the environment had on your community and what are you doing to address them?  As in all communities, the economic downturn has brought hardship to citizens and businesses. I would like to encourage businesses to establish in Varnell to increase jobs in the community. Highway 71 is becoming more of a main thorough fare  from south to north, in the fact that all GPS’s take you this route when traveling north on I-75, because it takes approximately 30 miles off of your travels.  I plan to re-approach businesses that have looked in the Varnell area in the past and have been turned away due to lack of sewage and liquor by the drink. Varnell now has access to sewage, alcohol sales on Sunday, and liquor by the drink. While alcohol sales on Sundays is not popular among a lot of people, the people that want to consume alcohol or buy alcohol on Sundays will do so, no matter where it is.  They can cross the state line and get it and bring it back, so why not keep the sales tax and revenue in the cities and counties and provide convenience to the citizens.  Varnell has a new Mexican restaurant opening soon and I feel that they will prosper in Varnell.

What else would you like the business community to know about your community?  I would like the business community to know that there is opportunity for growth and prosperity in Varnell. Food Lion ranks high in sales within the company and McDonald’s had the highest sales for a grand opening in the company, just to name a couple. Businesses in Varnell draw from many areas, such as the North end of Whitfield County, the North end of Murray County, the South end of Bradley County, and the Southeast end of Catoosa County.

Mayor, Ron Shinnick, City of Cohutta

ImageWhat opportunity are you most excited about in your city? It’s difficult to point to just one singular opportunity that stands out from all the rest, because presently there are several exciting and challenging opportunities. The truth is Cohutta is one of those undiscovered gems in our County and in NW Georgia. In general terms we want to do those things that will continue to foster and encourage an atmosphere where community, family, and volunteerism is encouraged among all our citizens.

Coming out of an economic downturn, what lingering effects has the economic environment had on your community and what are you doing to address them?
Most importantly it has effected families which is the real strength of any community including ours. You can see this lingering effect in regards to families in a number of important areas including our school, recreation programs and in other areas. We work closely with our county leaders both in the government and the school system, along with civic groups and local church groups to be sure we assist families wherever possible. We are able to provide through our local government and these other civic groups excellent outdoor facilities, town programs, meal assistance and other serviceswhere possible. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and make our local government work and serve everyone.

What else would you like the business community to know about your community?
– Because of our location, in the very Northern portion of the county, and our proximity to Tennessee, we are indeed the gateway to Georgia and also a convenient and time saving bypass, both north and south, around Chattanooga via highway 71.
– Cohutta has a long standing history of providing a quality education for all of its students in this part of the county. We have an award winning Elementary School with an amazing staff. Complimenting this fact is Cohutta was actually the first accredited High School in the County.
– We have a 45 acre recreational complex complete with three ballfields, tennis court, walking track, community bldg., picnic pavilion, playground etc..
– The Historic downtown area includes the original Bank bldg. built in the 1920’s, the original jail that is over a hundred years old, one of the oldest original church buildings in the county, the Cohutta Fish Hatchery which is the oldest continuos running fish hatchery in Georgia and now one of the oldest in the country, Red Clay State Park is also on our Northern border.
– We host several important annual events including the Street Dance each Fall, the 100k Firehouse Bike ride, the Ruritan Chicken Q and the 5k Joseph Standing run.
– Even though we are the smallest community by population in our County, the citizens have a great spirit of volunteerism, community and family. Because of that can do spirit we have been able to accomplish a great deal.
– Its a great community for families and new opportunities for business, especially along the highway 71 corridor, are beginning to take shape

Chairman, Mike Babb, Whitfield County Board of Commissioners

Image What opportunity are you most excited about in your city? We are most excited about the fact that there are more business inquiries about our area and the possibility of locating or expanding here.  Whitfield County is now on the state department of economic development radar and is having many more contacts from them concerning possible business locations and site visits.  The county has basically “bought” this position through economic development and pro-business decisions.

Coming out of an economic downturn, what lingering effects has the environment had on your community and what are you doing to address them?  The lingering effect that the county commissioners have to deal with are the changes in the revenue stream to the county treasury to support county services.  Economic development incentives, 100% Freeport, no 2% excise tax on energy used in manufacturing, payment for utilities to new business sites and development of the Carbondale Business Park are all expenditures or loss of revenue that affect the county treasury.  The county has to deliver state mandated services plus services expected by the citizens (roads, recreation, fire protection, etc.).  The commissioners expect to offer the citizens a chance to vote on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) to address the revenue loss to the treasury by allowing some of the capital costs to be paid by SPLOST rather than property taxes.  Passage of a SPLOST will also supply the opportunity to address quality of life issues to make our community more attractive to citizens and businesses.

What else would you like the business community to know about your community? Given a review of the past actions of the board of commissioners I think most businesses will come to realize that Whitfield County is “open for business”.

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