1. The Braves and Cobb County
The courting. The controversy. The climax. There’s more to this story than we can report here, but check our January 2014 issue for an in-depth look at this issue.
2. Franklin Road Bond Passes
Not only did Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin easily win re-election this fall, but his bigger victory, perhaps, was getting voters to approve a $68 million redevelopment bond aimed primarily at reshaping the Franklin Road corridor.
The city plans to purchase and tear down several existing apartment complexes, then market the land to developers in hopes of remaking the area adjacent to both I-75 and Cobb Parkway into a mixed-use community in the image of the Town Center or Galleria areas.
A real estate consultant company, Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle, has been hired to help market property the city purchases and will court developers interested in the area, and the city will close its $7.9 million-deal on the 386-unit, 25.2-acre Woodlands Park Apartments complex at 861 Franklin Road, just off I-75, by Dec. 31.
Of the $68 million, another $4 million is earmarked for pedestrian and landscape improvements to Whitlock Avenue. Those improvements will include sidewalks, crosswalks, medians, lighting, repaving Whitlock Avenue and mounting traffic lights to metal arms, which now hang from wires.
Depending on how much money is borrowed, the bond will mean higher taxes. According to the city, owners of a $200,000 home will pay an extra $160 in property taxes annually; an extra $240 on homes worth $300,000.
3. Six Flags Water Park Extension
Six Flags Over Georgia is making waves. The company announced in late summer its plans to include a new water park. The water park, which is the largest expansion in Six Flags Over Georgia’s history, is set to open Memorial Day weekend in 2014.
It will include an 800,000-gallon wave pool, two large slides and multiple amenities, including shaded cabanas, a new restaurant and changing facilities.
The new park will be in an expansion of Six Flags in Austell and in addition to White Water in Marietta. It will be located where the Southern Star Amphitheater now stands. The cost to enter Hurricane Harbor will be included in the seasonal pass or one-day ticket, which is $59.99.
And it is more than just about having fun. The water and theme parks had an economic impact of $175 million for its 2012 season, according to Cobb Travel and Tourism.
4. WellStar celebrates 20 years
WellStar Health Systems not only commemorated two decades in service this year, the health care company also expanded its footprint in the metro market.
Several acquisitions of smaller practices, the opening of a new health park in Acworth, and an insurance partnership with Piedmont Hospital were just a few of WellStar’s notable growth spurts. Next year will most likely see WellStar continue its growth with a health park on the way for Vinings and growth opportunities in other metro counties on tap.
5. EDGE launches
Earlier this year, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce officially launched Cobb’s Competitive EDGE program. The EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy) program is the county’s first public-private partnership with a five-year economic development blueprint aimed at growing Cobb’s business sector.
The program hit the ground running and is already tackling several major projects. The initiative has seven benchmark goals: the creation of 7,500 new jobs throughout the next five years, the increase of payroll earnings and income by $420 million and by $7,000 per capita; a reduction in unemployment to 5.5 percent; a 4 percent increase in public high school graduation rates; a 7 percent increase in college enrollment; an increase of existing industry visits from 30 to 100 annually made by Cobb's economic development experts to businesses to ensure that they have what they need; and an increase in quality of life as measured by Kennesaw State University’s Quality of Life survey.
Notable stories of 2013
1. Home Depot’s continued expansion in Kennesaw at call center.
2. KSU celebrates 50 years.
3. Dow Chemical Company opens first Southeast Regional Office in Marietta.
4. KSU and SPSU announce merger.
5. Education SPLOST passed in March to help schools.
6. South Cobb Redevelopment Authority relaunched.