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Study: City Should Boost Economic Development, Partnerships

Corporate location consultants made a presentation about the city of Stone Mountain's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats during the city council work session Monday.

The City of Stone Mountain should build on its strengths by seeking out public-private partnerships, offering economic development incentives, and targeting specific industries, corporate location consultants said Monday.

Herron Consulting's Joan Herron, president of the company, and location consultant Robert Price, also of Herron, laid out the positives and challenges n the city and the region during a presentation at the city council work session. Georgia Power paid for the community assessment.

A few of Herron's many recommendations and observations include:

Keep working on the village. "We think that downtown Stone Mountain deserves continuing emphasis," Price said. Inroads have already been made, he said. "It's something you should continue to focus on."

Increase interaction with the Stone Mountain Industrial Park.  "There doesn't seem to be a lot of interaction right now. It's hard to identify specific actions. So we think there's an opportunity there," Price said.

He compared the possibilities with those he's seen in overseas. In a concept called an industrial estate, the blue collar portion of a business is in one area, the white collar portion in another. In Singapore, the industrial estate might be in Malaysia or Indonesia, he said.

"In your case, the industrial estate is likely to be in Stone Mountain Industrial Park," Price said.

Target specific sectors and industries such as management, scientific and technical consulting; independent artists, writers and performers; motion picture and video production and post production; software publishing and custom computer programming.

"The target industries we identified we think are good fits for you and are worth pursuing," Price said.

Economic development incentives. "You really do not have a basket of incentives that you can reach into and identify incentives that work to attract a specific project," Price told the council. "You don't have to employ all the incentives once you develop them. You don't have to offer them to every project but you should have a variety of things that you can bring to the table, a variety of incentives that would work for different kinds of projects."

Monuments at major city entry points and better signage directing people toward Stone Mountain assets.

Education. Get more community support of education programs.

Global vision "is necessary to attract...the entrepreneurs you're going to be working with in the future," Price said.

Develop land for economic development and target land available in the future.

Strengthen business retention.

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