Sunday, September 19, 2010

Alpharetta sets its sites on the future

Unlike some North Fulton communities, Alpharetta saw the writing on the wall two years ago and braced itself for the difficult economic times on the horizon. And though production, employment, and savings squalls kept the sun away, Alpharetta fared rather well. And now, as the storms continue to swell; this city builds its shelter for the arduous times ahead.

With untapped city and emergency reserves, a balanced budget, and a $1,000 bonus awarded to all city employees this year (due to their patience in the no-raises conformity during the abovementioned two years); Alpharetta enlisted the guidance of Market Street Services -- together with their retail specialty subcontractor, The Buxton Group -- this July.

At Tuesday's city council meeting, Christopher Jones, Economic Development Coordinator presented the following information: Market Street Services responsibilities for the 2020 Economic Development Plan would be the following: Programs that address business retention, entrepreneurship development, industry sector analysis, competitive analysis, incentives, economic development partner alignment, marketing and PR. They will also aide in the needed policies, regulations, and procedures to put said programs in place.

The 2020 plan will also include an implementation schedule, and identify goals and strategies for same.

A series of individual interviews and group meetings are the first step. These will be conducted in late September and involve the mayor, city council, the development authority, business leaders, Home Owners Associations, and Civic/Education leaders.

After explaining each stage of the process in detail, Jones summed up the pertinent points by stating, "Our competition is also going to be addressed in this. Because we're not looking at competition that most people think might be Roswell or Norcross. Our competition is in Charlotte, Texas, the suburbs of Houston and Dallas. That's where we have to remain competitive."

Watching Alpharetta's Mayor and City Council on Sept. 7, one understands why "There is no 'i' in team." All were united in this significant endeavor as in the numerous others positive decisions and actions made by the city in the last few years. Not only in the confines of city hall, but down every street, and many neighborhood. Perhaps, this is why their healthy bottom line exists.

Councilmember Douglas DeRito said it best, however, with these words "We have done an outstanding job in building this city out. And the key to the next economic development for the next ten years is sustaining that advance posture of staying ahead of the curve and creating an environment that attracts people here...We have to keep our eye on the ball."

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