PTC may disband development authority
Is there room in Peachtree City’s economic development plan for the Development Authority of Peachtree City? That was the question on the minds of DAPC members as they met for the first time since March in light of a funding cut-off by the Peachtree City Council.
Last year, council voted to remove the $35,000 in funding for DAPC from its budget, effectively mothballing its operations in favor of a new city staffer guiding economic development for the city. And now there is talk that council may move to dissolve the all-volunteer group entirely.
DAPC Chairman Todd Strickland hopes that’s not the case. He argues that the authority has had success in helping communicate with existing industries, and there is also headway to be made in recruiting smaller “incubator” type businesses, office-type companies and others that are not on the radar of the Fayette County Development Authority.
FCDA is tasked with working with state economic development officials on larger prospects such as the recently-opened Sany heavy equipment campus in the Peachtree City industrial park.
Prior to its de-funding, DAPC was working not just with existing industries but also with existing small businesses, helping them band together to form merchants associations at several city shopping centers.
DAPC also played a role in the effort to convince Atlanta Christian College to move here, and also hosted a series of meetings with students from Georgia Tech who helped create a potential future vision for what the city will look like.
Strickland sees a pretty big hole in business recruitment with the shuttering of efforts from Pathway Communities, the company which owned much of the land in the city and industrial park.
“There’s a big vacuum that’s left,” Strickland said. “They were probably the most significant player in economic development in Peachtree City for many, many years.”
And that leaves an opportunity for the city to “really revisit how all the different groups work together in Peachtree City to bring in jobs and retain jobs with all the great companies we have here,” Strickland added.
“I sure hope the Peachtree City Development Authority stays in place and stays part of the team, but it may be out of our hands, and we’ll see where it goes,” Strickland said.
He added that the authority would abide by whatever council decides. Council’s responsibility, he noted, was to make decisions it thinks is in the best interest of the citizens, he added.
The council members who voted to de-fund DAPC in favor of the economic development coordinator arrangement did not attend Wednesday’s meeting. Longtime DAPC proponent Don Haddix, however, was in attendance.
Strickland said he understands the concerns of those who want to keep the authority from getting into problems because it legally can seek loans for economic development projects. The authority years ago built and operated the city’s tennis center and also operated the city amphitheater, but it ran into financial trouble which Strickland said was largely due to a full-time staff being overseen by part-time volunteers.
While the city will always be successful to a degree in large part due to its golf cart lifestyle, there is potential for more success if the city is willing to look at economic development as a revenue generator, Strickland added.
“We need to look at development and redevelopment around town to continue our vision for the future as a place that people want to work and play,” Strickland said.