DAPC reviews projects, hopes to remain intact


If for some reason elected officials end up deep-sixing the Development Authority of Peachtree City, one of the authority’s greatest missteps might turn out to be its ability to succeed under the radar.

DAPC Chairman Todd Strickland, at a special meeting last week to recap the volunteer group’s successes, said that was one of his greatest regrets.
“Perhaps I could’ve done a better job of touting our successes,” Strickland said just before authority members presented information on its accomplishments, much of it occurring behind the scenes and without fanfare.

Now the authority finds itself in a precarious position, their volunteer jobs perhaps on the firing line. Thus, the special called meeting Monday to review its list of accomplishments, and keep hope alive that its mission can be deemed critical enough to avoid the chopping block.

Strickland noted that the authority’s main mission is to help facilitate economic growth. And one of the most significant ways in which that is accomplished is through monthly “meet and greets” with local industry and business executives conducted by DAPC member Jay Herzog.

The informal meetings, sometimes conducted over lunch, were a great way to find out about those businesses’ needs, from the types of employees they’re looking for to their plans for the future, such as expansions, Herzog said.

“We would thank them for their business and let them know we appreciate that they’re here,” Herzog said.

And while often times Herzog would present a recognition plaque to the company, he was surprised on subsequent visits to see the plaque proudly on display, he added.

That created a relationship with those companies, who might contact Herzog at a later date with a sign issue or a road issue, some need the city can address for them, he added. Being able to address those types of issues, and having an ongoing dialogue with those companies can help stave off a company becoming dissatisfied and deciding to leave the city, he added.

“You don’t want to hear later that a company had left, and if we’d have been ahead of the curve and found out they had a need, we could have satisfied it and kept them in Peachtree City,” Herzog said.

The total cost for the “existing industry” outreach efforts? About $500 a year.

The authority also has been involved with pursuing a “Georgia Work Ready” certification for Fayette County, which allows citizens in the workforce to be evaluated through a testing system to certify they meet certification criteria. The goal of the Work Ready program is to show employers the quality of regional talent pools for future employees.

One of the more significant behind the scenes efforts involved the possibility of purchasing land on Ga. Highway 54 West to encourage a college campus to come to Peachtree City. At the request of Councilman Eric Imker, the authority looked into the matter and made a bid, though the property was ultimately sold to a commercial developer.

That wasn’t the authority’s only brush with higher education. DAPC was a significant player in the attempts to land the relocation of Atlanta Christian College several years ago, and the group even came up with a design for a brand-new campus that would have been located in northwest Peachtree City.

City officials at one point had to scramble up a quick plan for an ACC temporary campus, but it turned out that in the end ACC was swayed by an offer to purchase existing buildings in West Point, Ga. for its new campus instead.

Authority member Mark Hollums recalled all the various partners in the ACC recruitment effort, saying it was a true team operation.

And ACC did make it to Peachtree City after all, hosting a campus in an office complex that today has 28 dual-enrollment and 94 adult age degree completion participants, Hollums noted. The total cost of the ACC recruitment effort was about $2,500, officials said.

Strickland’s architecture firm, Historical Concepts, donated an animated video providing a “flyover” view of what the campus could look like, and that was a big selling point, Hollums said.

“I think the true value of that whole process was bringing the whole community together to work as a team,” Hollums said.

In addition to working with some of the city’s largest employers, the authority has also dedicated part of its mission to the retail sector. With the help of former authority member Grey Durham, DAPC helped create merchants associations at several retail centers in an effort to help them improve marketing efforts, particularly with a look at drawing in more customers from Coweta County.

Part of that marketing outreach initiative had the authority matching $250 put up by one of the retail associations for a program that featured an elementary school art contest in an effort to help build foot traffic.

DAPC also partnered with students from Georgia Tech in playing a unique visioning role in guiding the future of the city’s shopping centers. Teams of students came up with ideas to redesign the centers, taking note of a particular need to improve golf cart circulation through the centers.

And the ideas had some clout, too, as local shopping center owners heard presentations about the students’ ideas, joined by several council members and officials from the city’s planning department.

Another spinoff from that effort was the concept of adding some smaller segments to the cart paths near retail centers in order to create shortcuts for golf cart travel.
Other projects undertaken by the authority have also included:

• The 43 percent solution, which promoted the concept that spending in Peachtree City and Fayette County stores helps some 43 percent of those funds go back into circulation in the community;

• Creation of a schematic plan for retrofitting the then-empty former “baby Kroger” store at the Peachtree Crossings shopping center for use as a college campus by Clayton State University; and

• Development of a site plan for vacant commercial and residential land located at the intersection of Ga. Highway 54 East and Walt Banks Road as part of the Lexington Circle mixed-use development.