Lee: Cobb has an EDGE when it comes to economic development
by Jon Gillooly
January 15, 2013 03:48 AM | 4683 views | 35 35 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chairman Tim Lee said Monday that the EDGE program is ‘vitally important to the long-term success of our great county.’<br>Staff/Samantha M. Shal
Chairman Tim Lee said Monday that the EDGE program is ‘vitally important to the long-term success of our great county.’
Staff/Samantha M. Shal
CUMBERLAND — The chairman of the Cobb Commission points to low tax rates and trimmed budgets as key drivers in keeping the county economically viable in the state’s most competitive region.

In his State of the County address on Monday, county chairman Tim Lee highlighted the importance of the economic development program known as Cobb’s Competitive EDGE.

“This program, EDGE, is the most important initiative we as a community can take on in 2013,” Lee told a crowd of more than 500 at the First Monday Breakfast of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce held in the Galleria Centre. “It is imperative that we all take part in its execution and its success. It is vitally important to the long-term success of our great county.”

In 2010, when Lee was transitioning from northeast Cobb commissioner to chairman, he and Chamber leaders looked around to see how they could bring more jobs to the county. Gwinnett County had created its own economic development program, and it was one that Lee liked. That led to the formation of a nonprofit called the Competitive EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy), a five-year economic development program.

Brooks Mathis, who was hired two years ago as the Chamber’s economic development vice president, has been named the program’s interim executive director.

EDGE will have a $4 million budget over five years, funded mostly by businesses, with the possibility of some public dollars or in-kind donations. The group has set various goals to be met by 2018, including creating 7,500 new jobs.

Lee said in such competitive times, projects don’t just land in the community by chance.

Cobb, he said, has the lowest millage rate – the amount per $1,000 used to calculate property taxes — in metro Atlanta at 11.11 mills, compared to Gwinnett’s 13.02 mills, DeKalb’s 21.21, Fulton’s 21.53 and the city of Atlanta’s 23.76 mills.

Cobb also has the lowest operating and capital budget at $815.7 million, compared to Fulton’s $862.3 million, DeKalb County’s $1.28 billion, Gwinnett’s $1.46 billion and the city of Atlanta’s $1.8 billion, Lee said.

Cobb has one of the lowest sales tax rates, at 6 percent, the same rate Gwinnett has, compared to Fulton and DeKalb’s 7 percent and Atlanta’s 8 percent.

And when it comes to full-time government employees, Cobb has 4,210 compared to Gwinnett’s 4,460, DeKalb’s 6,247, Fulton’s 5,915 and Atlanta’s 7,398, Lee said.

“I am committed to doing our part to assure Cobb County is the most competitive county in the region,” Lee said. “To that end, we will do whatever it takes to keep Cobb County in its leadership position.”

Lee said by working with the state, the county’s six cities and the chamber, the result last year was 19 new business announcements, more than 1,773 new jobs and investments of $54.2 million from such companies as Gas South, Home Depot, Pramac Group and Assurant.

Overall, 2012 was a very good year for Cobb County government, Lee said, citing the completion in August of the $2.7 million Powder Springs Senior Center, which includes a full service senior clinic and wellness center, a joint effort with WellStar Health System.

Lee said the county’s transportation department has completed 93 percent of the 310 projects in the 2005 SPLOST program. For the 2011 SPLOST, it has started 45 percent of all projects ahead of schedule and under budget.

The county’s information services staff has a new mobile mapping system for obtaining parcel and zoning information, assessable for smartphones and tablets. The system should make it easier for homeowners and real estate professionals to look up information about a property.

The county has made significant improvements to McCollum Field to include a design of taxiway and apron taxi-lane connection, with construction likely this fall. Construction of a 100,000-square-foot corporate hangar was recently completed, and Lee looks forward to a U.S. Customs office opening this fall, as well.

Lee said conservative financial planning resulted in the county’s triple A rating from all three rating agencies last June, the county’s 15th consecutive year to hold that distinction.

The strategy for developing the 2012 budget was to maintain reduced service levels at libraries, senior centers and parks and restore funding for public safety, hold health care cost levels, and eliminate furlough days. All of these goals were accomplished, he said.

“We carried forward the budget reductions of 2011, where they were sustainable and slightly raised the millage,” Lee said.

The county also placed $9.6 million in reserves.

Overall, revenues were up $1.7 million in FY12, primarily due to a better-than-expected tax digest and development revenues. Expenses were down $17.3 million across several areas: unfilled vacancies, reductions in part-time hours, reduced transit and operational transfers, capital and debt savings and reduced health care expenditures.

The fiscal year 2012, spanning Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, ended with a sustainable budget, reasonable surplus, strong reserves and quality services for the county’s citizens and businesses. In September, the board adopted its fiscal year 2013 budget that carried forward this strong financial position. Lee thanked the commissioners who supported the budget strategy.

“My commitment to the community has always been to lead and manage Cobb County Government in the most conservative manner possible,” Lee said.

Last month, the board approved a plan to reduce the county’s general fund portion of property taxes over the next five years to pre-recession levels. The county plans to reduce the millage 0.2 points each year beginning this year and for the next four years, and then 0.1 points the fifth year, Lee said.

In the public safety arena, Lee said the 911 center made a $1.9 million upgrade to its dispatch system designed to improve dispatcher handling of calls. The county also last year hired four additional police officers with plans to add four more this year.

During the past two years, the county added 33 additional firefighters, bringing that department up to full staffing, he said.

Lee said he has already met with newly elected District Attorney Vic Reynolds to discuss launching two new initiatives: an elder abuse task force and an enhanced gang task force.

“No longer are we going to look forward by looking back to where we were,” Lee said. “We will focus what we can control and be prepared for that which we can not control. Only forward vision for Cobb County. With God’s grace, and a commitment to excellence, we will continue to be the best county in this great country.”

Among those in the audience was U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-east Cobb).

“I thought it was a great speech, and it was a great speech because he had a great story to tell about what they accomplished in 2012, the actions they took about 16 to 18 months ago paid off with a restored rainy day fund, there was attraction with new business coming in, with savings and expenditures and a real reorganization of the county’s fiscal affairs and for the 15th straight year a triple A rating: it doesn’t get much better than that,” Isakson said.

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon, also in attendance, referenced the new makeup of the Board of Commissioners, with Lisa Cupid replacing Woody Thompson.

“Seems like they’re all on board to hopefully be behind the chairman and move forward with his plan,” Bacon said. “You know, the last few years, through Sam (Olens) and Bob Ott, we’ve had good relationships with Cobb County, and we look forward to another four years.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
corrupt city
January 18, 2013
Your attacks on me prove just what lengths this city will go to hide their dirt.

Thank-you for helping shine the light.
Solutions are....
January 18, 2013
GETTING RID OF THE LEADERSHIP IN SMYRNA. Smyrna needs elected officials who are motivated to improving the declining state of the city rather than furthering their own interests.
Smyrna slush funds
January 18, 2013
Your scurrilous , relentless, personal attacks, are quite telling of how this city conducts business & silences citizens seeking truth.

The issue's effecting Smyrna citizens are many.

For one, changing a 9 million dollar SPLOST road project into an obscene 20 million dollar road project(without transparency).

Concord Road simply needed several turn lanes, crosswalks and a better sidewalk, saving taxpayers over 15 million dollars. Instead large oaks have been cut down , businesses were either run off, bought out, or taken by eminet domaine. There is a treeless, sodded PARK planned by the citie's vocal mouthpiece, Sean Murphy. This project has devalued all of Smyrna Heights & been a slush fund for all involved.

The city has used tax payers money to buy apartment buildings(without transparency).

Unfortuately, w/ no businesses coming to Smyrna & poverty on the rise, the PRIVATE buyers just aren't willing to come to Smyrna to buy properties & revamp ,as done in Decatur, East Atl., Va-High, Emory areas.

None of these apartment buyouts have raised ANY surrounding property values.

Jonquil & Belmont remain empty.

Building a mega elementary school at Belmont Hills will prove to be a bad idea.

The Market Village w/ all its GOVERNMENT buildings has a dishonest past. There were rumors of arson & definite eminent domain, for the city to build its monuments.

The city of Smyrna must control everything. This is why you see no open discussions on any city websites (like its done in quality cities -(Roswell, Dunwoody, Decatur).

January 18, 2013
Is it my imagination or are virtually all of the negative posts about Smyrna emanating from one person using multiple monikers?

It is pretty obvious that whoever you are you seem to be hell bent on disparaging everything about the City of Smyrna.

I am not a mental health care professional, but my layman's observation is that you are afflicted with an unhealthy, deep seated hatred of anything having to do with Smyrnna and its' leadership.

Hopefully you don't own any guns and if you do they need to be confiscated immediately!!
nlyflec mana
January 20, 2013
714: It is not your imagination. There is a person out here that deplores Smyrna, lives there, and hates anyone and everyone that has a positive word to say about anything.
facts don't lie
January 17, 2013
Quality stops at the Smyrna city limits.

Vinings is a clear, distint and seperate area, w/ an Atlanta address. The house values in Vinings are double Smyrna.

Smyrna house a declining housing stock priced between $30,000-$125,000 dollars.

Jonquil remains empty.

A Publix will further devalue surrounding neighborhoods.

Forest Hills & Bennet Woods have a large amount of for sale signs.

Concord Road is a wasted 20 million dollars & will devalue Smyrna Heights & Forest Hills.

Belmont Hills will be a 'mega' low performing school & an empty lot.

South Cobb Drive & Windy Hill will stay as they are , rundown & transient.

Spring Road is full of run down townhomes.

5 Points lucks like a slum.

The Market Village is neither a market, nor a village.

The only thing new in Smyrna are the monuments to the mayor & the lights to light the circus!

Yeah, whose looking out for the folks in Smyrna?

Postive Beat
January 18, 2013
And your solutions are?
January 17, 2013
Put your money where your mouth is.

Come buy my house for $185,000.

I'm gone.

Never step foot back in Smyrna as long as I live!
Not Smurf
January 18, 2013
Unfortunately, I cannot give you an offer of $185, since that is not fair market value of your home in 2013. I am not smurf, whoever smurf is in your head. It would be a great day for Smyrna if you never stepped foot in it again. Lord bless us all with that event that would deserve a parade. P.S. I have absolutely no idea who your head is calling smurf. I am not blue and I am not a male.
January 16, 2013
What 'favor' have you been promised for doing such dirty work for the city?

You (& the one's putting you up to this infantile behavior), seem to be becoming more & more desperate.

City officials that conduct business in this manner, are not worthy of the office they hold!

Just Get Happy
January 18, 2013
No favors at all. I am an honest Christian that would never accept a favor or bribe from anyone. I don't even live there. I just see smear after smear after smear with no facts to back up the smears. Why anyone would want to live so miserable in a place they hate so much is far beyond my comprehension. Please get help for your delusion that I am being paid with favors, because your delusions are very, very real. I can't vote for Bacon one way or the other. I am just a reasonable person that lives in Cobb and is sick of your constant obsession and smear campaign. Did anyone ever clue you in that your house is not your life?
January 18, 2013
You are almost off the rocker now....99.9% gone! Your posts make no sense at all. Favors? Dirty work? Conspiracy? I see infantile behavior from you. I am not a city official. What part of your paranoia needs to be explained? Lady, look up extreme paranoia and you are that defined. I do not know you, wouldn't want to be you, and feel sorry for you that you think the world is so against you. I get the vibe that anywhere you live would be a miserable place....I agree with that one.
January 16, 2013
It's not funny that Smyrna is looked upon as an undesirable location for business by many. It's perfectly logical. Poor leadership. Some would even say corrupt leadership. The problems in Smyrna could be fixed if the so called leaders would step aside.
Kickback Who? You?
January 16, 2013
Please explain your statements with facts. What are the facts that Smyrna is looked upon as an undesirable location for business by many? What are the facts that leadership is corrupt? What are your solutions for new leadership to consider if old leadership stepped aside? All I see in your post are broad accusations, not facts. I could even say you are corrupt for trying to smear people without facts to back up your smear campaign.
good ole boys...
January 15, 2013
That's exactly what is wrong in Cobb, esp. Smyrna.

Absolute power corrupts! You do understand that, right?

You take a poor little redneck town, noone pays much attention. Daddy's the mayor, the boy get's elected council.

Daddy croaks,.. boy steps in. Golly,.. just look at all the money & power! And I get to drive a big truck,.. too!!

And the people are so dumb, they ain't paying ttention anyway.

26 years of FAVORS, is exactly the reason most political positions have term limits.

The senseless comment below by anonymous, was just that,... senseless!

You don't tear down OLD things,.. you TAKE CARE of them!!

Smyrna is CLUELESS how to do this!

Just LOOK at South Cobb, Windy Hill, Davenport, 5 Points, Spring Road neighborhoods, Smyrna Heights, etc.,.. been totally ignored for 26 years!

Smyrna doesn't want an educated, more sophisticated citizenry.

1st off, it doesn't take but a quick ride around to see something is wrong here,.. very wrong!

Give me the wonderful OLD neighborhoods in Va-Highland, Decatur & Emory any old day w/ their lush, green growth & gardens, cobblestone sidewalks, charm & architecture. Look at Greece , Italy, Rome, Egypt, etc. There's SO MUCH MORE beauty in OLD things,.. than cheap looking, cheaply built buildings that all look the same!

The most beautiful things are old architecture, giant old trees, gardens, art, and a natural mixture of new buildings that 'fit in' w/ the environment.

You think Smyrna, even if it succeeds in razing and getting rid (intead of taking care of),.. all its old neighborhoods,.. will then be a nice, inviting place?

NO it won't! It will be cold, boring, and lifeless!

THAT is mayor Bacons outdated plan,.. and he is succeeding in the destuction of a city that , because of location,.. had great potential!

January 16, 2013
Wow. This writer sure is full of venom and hatred. I sure wouldn't want to be that miserable. I thank God I see the beauty in the day and the opportunities it brings for me to make the world a little better than it was yesterday.
In Reply
January 16, 2013
I wrote the anonymous comment. You can compare my writing to yours and it is plain as day which one of us is the educated, more sophisticated citizen and which one is the redneck. Thank you.
Move On To Ham
January 16, 2013
Let me reply one by one. Why do you always take anything, and I do mean anything, written in this paper about any area of the county and turn it around to your hatred of Max Bacon and also make the article about Smyrna? For example, this particular article is about the county. The article is not about Smyrna. Sorry, your exclamation points and caps reveal who you are...always. The man is not making millions off his job, nor does he have much power in the county. You must make very, very, very little to say the mayor of Smyrna makes "all this money." And why do you care one hoot-a-nanny what the man drives? You say people are so dumb? What people are so dumb? Everyone except for you? The man has been voted into office for all these years by the majority of the vote of the people of Smyrna. Sorry, they don't count your one vote as the majority. How do you know what Smyrna wants? Are you the one-all, be-all mouthpiece for Smyrna? I agree you are a mouthpiece, but that is all we agree on. I can't compare Smyrna with Greece, Italy, Rome, Egypt, etc. Just yet. Smyrna is not nearly as old to make that comparison. I do see preservation in Smyrna in many architectural sites, but yet again, you complain about how much the light bill is for the city to protect these sites. Okay, let's vote you the gatekeeper who drives around the city all night counting the lights that are on and presenting proposals before the city as to which you think should be turned off and which you think should be kept on. How much should we pay you for that job? Smyrna is not required to take care of your house, nor is it required to take care of anyone else's house. The only thing I see here that is cold, boring, and lifeless are your comments. And last, a mayor cannot one-handedly destruct an entire city. You, although you are full of nothing but p___ and vinegar, say Smyrna has great potential. Let's hear it from you then. Let's hear your "do-able" ideas other than to turn the lights off. I bet you have a lot to contribute once you look past Bacon and get into your own mind and get rid of your p___ and vinegar. Please stop the Bacon tirade and move onto Ham, or planting petunias, or oak trees, or riding your bicycle on the Silver Comet Trail. Or volunteering somewhere. Your same ole', same ole' tirades against Bacon are the same ole', same ole' stuff. Does your head not get tired of you repeating yourself over and over and over? Does your head say sometimes, "Please let's eat ham. I am tired of bacon?" I think there is a lovely person lying somewhere in that hateful persona. And why do you have to call people dumb, etc.? I never said it before in my life, but let me say it now. I think you are dumb for wasting so much of your entire life and your time that could be used doing something positive other than hating Bacon.
ketedian its
January 16, 2013
If you are married, pity that poor person. "There are too many lights on. There are not enough lights on. There are not enough trees. You left too many trees in Hickory Lake." Lawd......
January 17, 2013
You are one crazy quack. You said "You think Smyrna, even if it succeeds in razing and getting rid (intead of taking care of),.. all its old neighborhoods,.. will then be a nice, inviting place?" Well, out of one side of your mouth you said Smyrna should have taken care then of Hickory Lake Apartments with taxpayers money, then out of the other side of your mouth you slam rental property....what is it then? There are some nice courses you can take at Chattachoochee Tech to take up your idle time.
January 17, 2013
Explain your comment to the anonymous comment: "The senseless comment below by anonymous, was just that,... senseless!" Why was it senseless? I didn't perceive it to be senseless.
January 17, 2013
MK, if we double your money, will you move? The rednecks in Smyrna can afford it.

Second In Reply To
January 17, 2013
I do try to learn from every encounter in my life. You commented on my comments that

"The senseless comment below by anonymous, was just that,... senseless!" I would like to know why my comment was senseless. You have an inate ability to make accusations, but don't have the ability to back up your accusations. You just make them all the time. Again, what was senseless about my comments? And please lose the caps and exclamation points, run spell check, and get an English tutor before you call anyone uneducated, which you obviously are.
Whatever MK Says Go
January 17, 2013
Go look again, MK. You are not situated in a location that is convenient to interstates.
January 15, 2013
I grew up in Cobb County. My family bought a house here over 50 years ago and that was when Cobb County was just starting to develop. People need to realize that things get old--it was mentioned "even East Cobb...." Yes, East Cobb developed many years after South Cobb, and "even East Cobb" got old. What do you propose? Raz any part of the county that is more than 50 years old and start over? You also need to realize we are in the worst housing market ever in the history of our country. Housing values will never go back to what they were even 7 years ago. Houses are no longer the retirement income they used to be, and you can't blame local government for that. We are the generation that has to "eat" fallen house values. That is just the way it is, and it has nothing to do with what county or even what state you live in. Please be optimistic. There is nothing any of us can do about the housing market; there is plenty we can do to keep our attitudes positive. Whether or not you voted for who our leaders are, they are our leaders and deserve our support and respect. After all, they are in office due to majority vote. To say they are in office because of a "good ole boy network" is to say the majority of people are corrupt then. Think of it this way--the city of Milton will get old someday. Do you tear it down when it gets old and start over? Dunwoody has pockets of poverty. So does Buckhead; two regions known for wealth. Do you run people out that make less than whatever value you put on them? People in Milton are just as "underwater" in the value of their homes as are people in Cobb. No more; no less. Let's support Cobb instead of tearing it down all the time. It is still the greatest county around in my opinion, and I am proud to call Cobb my forever home.
January 15, 2013
Funny that Smyrna is looked upon as an undesirable location for business by many since along with the Cumberland area it is the best located portion of Cobb County for substantial and sustainable business growth.

Hopefully this EDGE program that the Chairman is emphasizing so strongly will make considerable efforts in the Cumberland and Smyrna areas, the I-75 corridor to the north and the I-285 corridor to the west.

East Cobb and West Cobb are residential areas and should be treated that way.

South Cobb is admittedly a challenge.

We are only as strong as our weakest link.
January 16, 2013
TIC: Show me where Smyrna is looked upon as an undesirable location other than this blog.
January 17, 2013

Ever hear of reading comprehension?

I said it is "funny" (synonyms: inexplicable, not logical, without reason etc.) that Smyrna is looked upon by many as being an undesirable location for business.

It is well located geographically, has excellent accessibility, a balanced housing stock and a reasonably balanced tax base.

In other words it has most of the attributes of a sustainable, healthy community.

Are there some problems and challenges? Absolutely!! Just like most other towns and cities.

What Smyrna and the balance of Cobb County need is a strategically targeted economic development effort that takes advantage of the strengths and addresses the weaknesses in our community.

From what I have learned the EDGE program is at least a step in this direction. The fact that it is proposed to be privately funded is encouraging.

Combined with the publicly funded initiatives of the county and its' various municipalities it allows a public/private partnership to be formed.

My major concern is the leadership of the Chamber and their ability to effectively implement and administer this effort.

Don't Agree
January 15, 2013
Companies aren't coming to Cobb Co. The county (especially the southern part) is deteriorating. Even parts of East Cobb are becoming run down. Low millage rates and taxes aren't attracting new businesses. They're going at the problem with the wrong strategy.
Tim Lee
January 15, 2013
Come buy a house in poverty stricken Smyrna.

Maybe one in the run down neighborhoods where you idiots could care less about quality of life, but more for the 100 million dollar 'slush fund' plan for an absolutely ludicrous Windy Hill Boulevard.

All of the Cobb County government has encouraged a 3rd world community to grow & spread in the south Cobb part of the county.

Lee,.. come have lunch on Pat Mell road. Come see what your county REALLY looks like.
LaBelle Elem Alum
January 15, 2013
Grew up next to LaBelle elementary from the age of 2 in 1962. Graduated from Osborne in 1978. My father owned the miniature golf course on South Cobb drive.

So sad as I drive down South Cobb drive now. No signs in English anywhere in sight. Went from Americana to Mexicana.
What Did You Just?
January 17, 2013
LaBelle: What part of South Cobb Drive did you drive down? I see Kroger and Publix signs in English. I see Food Depot signs in English. I don't see any signs that are not in Engish, except those that have Mexican names such as the popular Los Bravos.
January 15, 2013
Government jobs & government growth is NOT an economic plan.

There are no PRIVATE companies coming to Cobb County.
Lee is full of it
January 15, 2013
NOT ONE THING has come to Smyrna in the LONG 12 years I've suffered here,.. losing one house because of the mexican drug cartels meth lab next door, and now, set to loose another, just a short block from Smyrna city hall,... because there is noone qualified to run a city, in the Smyrna government!!!

The NERVE of such a dishonest mayor to make a statement to the MDJ , w/out addresing WHY companies intentionally stop at the Smyrna city limits & refuse to set up shop in Smyrna.

Mr. Lee, you are snug & comfortable over in East Cobb. I imagine many of your dinners are spent in Roswell or Sandy Springs.

South Cobb has deteriorated into a no mans land.

This includes, Smyrna , Marietta, Austell, Powder Springs, Mableton & Six Flags.

I think a deal was hatched YEARS ago w/27 years in office, mayor Max Bacon, that as long as he keeps the rif-raf on this side of I-75,.. no-one would dig into his cities (corrupt) spending habits!

There is a reason GM picked Roswell for their ITT center , bringing 1,000 new high paying white collar jobs to ROSWELL. Its called QUALITY of LIFE!!

South Cobb is the new South Dekalb!!
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