Posted: Tuesday, January 22nd 2013 at 7:21pm
With jobs waiting, Hall Commissioners weigh sewer options
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – Hall County Commissioners listened closely, knowing that their decision about the handling of waste water that someday would be generated in a section of the county that now abounds with dense underbrush and tree-covered hills, would have great impact on the area's economic growth (read: jobs) for generations to come.
Three different presentations were made to the Commission, each suitor hoping to be the one chosen as the means of handling the future waste water treatment needs that Commissioners hope will be generated by new businesses attracted to the Gateway Industrial Centre and the “365-corridor”.
"We have an important responsibility to the people who are going to come in here and spend, say $500 million or more, to give then the highest and best service we can give them," said Commission Chairman Dick Mecum.
Gainesville and Hall County have repeatedly shown up in recent reports and surveys as economic growth leaders in the state and across the southeastern United States. The new year promises to be a strong extension of the impetus gathered in 2012.
Tim Evans, Vice-President of Economic Development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, told Commissioners, "The Gateway Industrial Centre and the 365-corridor represent the next area of growth for us.”
“It's (the sewer situation) been a limiting factor,” Evans said referring to the Chambers ongoing efforts to convince businesses to locate in our area.
“Without all the infrastructure in place...we're just asking companies, perspective businesses, to accept a higher level of risk than they are having at other locations.”
“A company that's looking at us is looking at how we're going to provide a solution for having water and the sewer and all those infrastructure items come into place and be there by the time that they start. Those are requirements on their part because they are (also) looking at other alternatives that already have that.”
Commissioner Jeff Stowe asked Evans about possible job numbers associated with companies that appeared anxious to locate in the Gateway Industrial Centre.
Evans said one group with keen interest had “an initial number that would be in the ballpark of above 200, as a very conservative number, probably closer to three (hundred).”
Evans added that he felt the company “would need to make an internal decision within the next couple of months" on whether or not they locate in Hall County.
“And that puts a lot of pressure on us to have those pieces in place,” Evans added.
Following Evan's remarks Dennis Bergen, City Manager of Lula, Kip Padgett, City Manager of Gainesville, and Ken Rearden, Public Works Director for Hall County, each presented to the Commission their plans, cost estimates, and arguments for being considered as best-choice for handling the waste water treatment needs of the Gateway Industrial Centre project area.
When queried after the work session about a time frame for the Commission's decision, Chairman Mecum said, “That's a good question. No, I don't have a time frame.”
“We got the idea from Tim Evans that there is a sense of urgency,” Mecum continued, “ and we're really going to have to look at this.”
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