JDA gets preview of new economic development website
by Jason Lowrey
Sep 18, 2013 | 1348 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow County will soon have a new way to promote itself as the “location of choice” for businesses.

The phrase has long been the address for the Bartow-Cartersville Joint Development Association’s website, and during the organization’s Tuesday meeting board members got a preview of the redesigned website. Bartow-Cartersville Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon said she hoped to have the website live by Monday or Tuesday of next week. The Georgia Economic Developers Association is meeting for its 50th anniversary Sept. 25 to 27, and Lemmon wanted the site up and running by then.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to unveil our new location of choice branding, the logo you all approved and to have this website that’s currently in the development stage go live,” she said.

The website, www.locationofchoice.com, has not been overhauled since it went live in the early 2000s. While all the information is current, Lemmon said, the JDA needs a more contemporary website.

“It’s functional. It has all the information, but it’s not nearly as interesting and dynamic as this version,” she said, comparing the existing site to the new.

Once the redesigned version is live, visitors will see a rotating banner displaying photos of business announcements and local leaders. Planned content includes utility information, quality of life information and demographic information, among other topics, for companies considering making an investment in Bartow County. To make such consideration easier, the website will also have a site and building search engine built in.

Potential investors will have the ability to search for land or existing structures from the website and narrow the results down based on lot size, building size, economic incentives and other criteria. Each listed property’s information will be contained within the JDA website.

During its meeting, the board approved the creation of a special bank account for a state Regional Economic Business Assistance grant. The grant, according to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs website, is designed to help “‘close the deal’ when companies are considering Georgia and another state or country for their location of expansion.” To comply with state law, the JDA must create an interest-free bank account to receive the funds and later disperse them to the final recipient, voestalpine.

“With the voestalpine project, the state of Georgia recommended the project receive a REBA grant,” said Lemmon. “We will still be the recipient as the Joint Development Authority and we’re still going through the process of satisfying the conditions and making sure that the application is complete.”

The account will be at Century Bank.

Also approved was a management agreement with the second JDA, which was created to allow the economic development organization access to Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds. Under the agreement the second JDA will own the land Highland 75 industrial park land is built on, but the first JDA will maintain the property.

“We created the second JDA and because of that all the bonds were transferred over to the second JDA, but the intent was always for the second JDA to be more of an advisory board and as a pass-through entity. The first JDA was to handle the day-to-day operations and management of both the existing project, which is Highland 75, and all the outstanding bond issues and all future bond issues,” said Keith Lovell, who serves as legal counsel for the JDA.

“Basically what this management agreement does is the second JDA authorizes you to manage the Highland 75 park,” Lovell continued. “You are authorized all the bond transfers related thereto, the intergovernmental agreements, the PILOT agreements and everything else. ... In exchange for doing that you will receive all transactional fees related to, like bond issues.”

Other board business included: 

• Hearing the July and August financial reports.

• Tabling the FY 2012 financial audit until the board’s next meeting.

• Approving marketing and landscaping ad hoc services. The approved motion allows JDA staff to manage needed landscaping and marketing services without calling a board meeting for a decision.

The JDA board’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 15, at noon at the Clarence Brown Conference Center.