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College Park announces economic development plan

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Mehgaan Jones

mjones@news-daily.com

The Mayor and City Council of College Park recently announced the adoption of a strategic-action plan for economic development, calling the plan the city's most important document to date.

"This is our road map for greatness," said Mayor Jack Longino. "The strategic plan blends research with vision, respecting the delicate nature of our historic district, while boldly outlining our determination to lead in attracting new business to the region."

Highlights of the plan, according to officials, include: identifying business-attraction targets, such as those related to aviation and aerospace, biotechnology and the medical field, renewable energy, data centers and back office operations, logistics and transportation, as well as retail, hospitality and tourism.

According to Gerald Walker, a spokesman for the city, the creation of the Economic Development Strategic Plan was a comprehensive effort by city officials and the community to assess the city's ability to pace its growth consistently with the demands of the region.

The plan took nearly two years of thoughtful consideration, Walker added, and is currently being utilized. The document, itself, is 19 pages, and summarizes community history, demographics and major industry. It also outlines goals in four core areas, including: business attraction, retention and expansion, redevelopment, and small business development, Walker said.

"The driving force of the plan is to establish a direction for College Park's short-and long-term economic development," added College Park's Economic Development Director Barbra Coffee.

"Specifically, the plan guides future planning and land-use decisions as it relates to economic development, and outlines strategies to enhance the city's attraction, retention, expansion and redevelopment efforts," said Coffee.

According to Walker, the planning process began with a series of meetings to gather community input. "The sessions were conducted as a part of the city's Liveable Centers Initiative program (LCI), which is assisted by the Atlanta Regional Commission," he said.

"[The LCI is a] way for the city to gauge what the community is expecting, and how to attract the right kind of business ... This information was then incorporated into the formation of goals and objectives in the strategic plan," he added.

A critical concern was ensuring that the city's economic vision kept pace with important fixed assets, such as the new Gateway Center, which consists of two Marriott hotel properties next to the Georgia International Convention Center, according to Walker.

Other fixed assets include College Park's downtown and historic districts, city-owned vacant land, the city's proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and access to major highways and transportation, he said.

"This gives us a targeted approach when looking at the type of companies we want to attract to College Park," Coffee explained. "If you don't know where you're going, it's really tough to get there," she said.

The 2010 College Park Strategic Plan document is accessible online by visiting www.CollegeParkga.com, and selecting Economic Development from the Department menu.