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New PTC economic chief faces big challenges, modest budget

Peachtree City’s new economic development coordinator is proposing to start with a modest $75,000 budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

With those funds, Joey Grisham will be starting up an operation that will focus heavily on retail recruiting to address vacancies in the city’s retail buildings.

The City Council had been expected to vote on the budget at a special called meeting tonight (Feb. 21), but the special meeting has been canceled, and all the postponed agenda items will be heard at the regular March 3 meeting.

The $75,000 proposal includes $42,000 for advertising, printing and binding, and $4,750 for education and training. Also since the position is new the city will spend just over $10,000 on a computer setup and other operating supplies for Grisham’s one man operation.

Grisham’s proposed budget breaks down into line item expenditures for each category, including a projected $2,000 in “marketing and recruitment” for efforts to lure suppliers of the new Sany heavy equipment manufacturer that is slated to open later this year as the latest large tenant in the city’s industrial park.

In a memo to council, Grisham contemplates that a potential overseas trip will be necessary as part of those efforts.

Another part of Grisham’s budget will add a software program to the city’s arsenal. The program provides detailed demographic information including the capability to draw comparisons to other regions.

As far as the retail sector goes, Grisham is inheriting a challenge. A large shopping center featuring a newly-opened Sam’s Club and a soon-to-be-open movie theater is certain to draw Peachtree City residents to spend their money and time there, along with sales tax dollars that city officials would rather keep here.

In some ways however the retail picture has become more rosy for the city in recent months as the city landed the Fresh Market specialty grocer to replace the vacant Baby Kroger store in the Peachtree Crossing shopping center.

Also, the Braelinn Village shopping center has undergone a complete exterior renovation that was officially opened this summer. The effort has attracted renewed interest from potential tenants and also has resulted in additional foot traffic there, according to reports from retailers who have been there for years.

What remains to be seen in the city’s funding of Grisham’s department is whether or not the Development Authority of Peachtree City will have any significant role in the city’s economic future. The budget includes no line-item funding for authority necessities such as a part-time staffer to take minutes, training for authority members and the like.

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