Economic Development Report


by Gerry Nechvatal Port Royal Visit and Breakfast Presentation
The visit by the Port Royal Development Team sparked a great deal of interest as evidenced by the tremendous turnout at the Chamber of Commerce Membership Breakfast, and although the response has been very positive, there have been some valid questions and legitimate concerns which I would like to address.
1) Who is behind the Port Royal Resort? The developers are a private investment group based in New York. Numerous individuals are involved and include a New York State Supreme Court Justice, as well as Recording Industry Executive, Mathew Knowles. Mathew was the featured speaker at the Breakfast on Tuesday the 13th.
2) Does Port Royal own the property? Port Royal owns the original site located on 136. The current location on the Appalachian Development Highway is part of a 750 acre site owned by the Forestar Group. Forestar has provided an assignable option and purchase agreement for a 125 acre tract to the Jasper Development Authority. The Development Authority Attorney and the Forestar Attorney are currently working on executing the assignment for Port Royal Holdings. Purchase of the property is the responsibility of Port Royal.
3) Have they built this type of resort before? Although the Port Royal Project Director has been involved in other developments, this is the first project of this type. They have contracted with leaders in the indoor water park resort industry for the design, construction, and operation. Representatives were in attendance at the Breakfast and included S&L Hospitality. Eric Lund and Craig Stark of S&L are pioneers in the indoor water park and resort hotel industry, and currently have other successful resorts under management.
4) Why do they think it will be successful? An in-depth feasibility and economic impact study compiled by Hotel and Leisure Associates, a leading hospitality consulting firm, supports the viability of this project in north Georgia as well as Pickens County and the City of Jasper as a specific location. A copy of this 150+ page document is on file.
5) We should really focus on industry for jobs. The economic development efforts in our community include support for industry expansion as well as recruitment as evidenced by QSR adding on to the Jasper facility, Standridge Color Corporation completing a new plant last year on Hood Road, and Orlaco recently opening their North America Headquarters in an existing building on Confederate Avenue.
6) What about traffic? Based on Georgia DOT data the average daily vehicle count on 515 is 21,060 below West Church Street and 16,730 north of this intersection. The resort is planned to have 400 hotel rooms with an average projected stay of 3 days so the traffic impact should be very minimal. The entrance will be on 515.
7) What incentives were offered? Incentives include the new state level Tourism Development Act incentive, an agreement to collaborate with the Chamber of Commerce on the marketing for tourism development using a portion of Hotel/Motel taxes generated at the resort, and a 20 year property tax incentive that has full abatement for 10 years and a graduated schedule for the next ten. Water and sewer service will be provided to the development by the City of Jasper. Tap on fees were not waived.
8) Is the City or County providing funding? The City of Jasper nor Pickens County is providing funding for this project.
9) Will the County have to issue bonds? In order for any community in the State of Georgia to offer a property tax incentive, “bonds for title” must be issued by a development authority. Because the property location is in the City Limits the Jasper Development Authority, not the Pickens County Development Authority, will be handling any transactions. Unlike General Obligation Bonds, these are pass-through bonds that do not obligate the community for repayment. Last year in Georgia, over $3 billion in bonds were issued by development authorities in support of economic development projects.
10) What are the next steps? In order to begin the Development of Regional Impact or DRI process, a site plan is needed and is currently being drafted.
Newly Renovated Jasper Enterprise Center fosters Expansion and Business Retention
The newly renovated Jasper Enterprise Center fosters business expansion and business retention by providing a high quality facility with flexible space. Driven by the need for a larger building to accommodate projected growth after a recent acquisition, Georgia Telecom Supply is the first business to make their home at the facility which in the past was a shoe plant, a glass plant, and a cabinet distribution center. GTS owner Allen Creighton found the warehouse and office space well matched with his fiber optic networks supply company in addition to finding Enterprise Center owner, Colonnade Realty, being very easy to work with.
Film and Entertainment Inquiries on the Increase
Requests for specific film and entertainment locations are on the increase due to both the strength of this emerging industry in Georgia, as well as many sites within close radius of Atlanta becoming stale. This has generated numerous opportunities for the submission of a variety of locations in Pickens County and the City of Jasper, but just as with manufacturing projects, not only is there competition from other communities, sometimes the projects do not move forward.

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