Kimberly Carter and Valerie Gray of the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA) had a busy afternoon Monday as they gave mid-year economic updates to both the Chambers County Commission and the LaFayette City Council.
Carter, the Family Support Coordinator & Business Retention Specialist for the CCDA, addressed both groups on the economic development activities taking place in the county in 2014.
She said that the CCDA is currently working 21 active projects, which includes 14 industrial, four retail and three commercial projects. Carter said four new retail businesses have opened over the past few months and that 424 new jobs have been created this year. In addition, more than $48 million in capital investments have been made in the county.
The investments have generated substantial funds for the Chambers County and Lanett City School Systems, with $243,492 generated from sales and use taxes and $108,000 annually from property taxes.
The CCDA small business grant program is still ongoing, and Carter said that $15,000 is left in the grant fund. She encouraged any small business to inquire about the $5,000 grants soon if they wish to have assistance in funding improvements to their facilities.
The Development Authority is also looking to hire a fourth staff member, whose job will be strictly devoted to community development projects, including working on downtown revitalization projects and the recruitment of businesses. Carter said that the CCDA would seek no new funding for the employee, but rather that the budget had been restructured to accommodate the addition.
A community branding initiative is also in the works, according to Carter. The initiative will feature a logo and slogan that will encompass the entire county with the goal of establishing an identity with potential developers and retail organizations.
Carter said the CCDA recently spoke with teachers from both public school systems in an effort to promote local shopping. As an example, she said that if each of the school system’s 476 employees spent and additional $20 each month at businesses in Chambers County, then the county would receive an additional $19,801.60 in tax funds and the schools would receive an additional $4,950. “That doesn’t seem like a lot of money, it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the budgets,” she said. “But there are 34,000 people in this county, so what if we could encourage those to spend $20 more here, think of the impact that we could have.”