Boards brainstorm future
By KELLY QUIMBY The Brunswick News
It was a rare occurrence in the office of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce Monday, where representatives from nearly every Glynn County government entity gathered in a single room to discuss the community's economic future.
Members of the Glynn County and Brunswick commissions, the Glynn County Board of Education and the Brunswick and Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission, along with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority, were taking a first step - meeting together to discuss mutual concerns - that will have to be repeated many times if they want to be successful in building the economy.
In the world of economic development, said Rob Gordon of the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government, no one person or entity can do it alone. Each will have its own part to play in redevelopment, he told the group gathered at the chamber of commerce.
"It's kind of hard sometimes to wrap your head around this concept of economic development," Gordon said. "Every community's definition of economic development is going to be different. You've got to write your own definition. You've got to get organized around what you want."
Catina Tindall, chair of the chamber board, said everyone seems to agree something needs to be done to improve the economy, but they are not yet together on how to accomplish that mission.
Brunswick Mayor Pro Tem Julie Martin said there is no shortage of plans for improvement, but there is difficulty getting started.
That, Gordon said, will be one of the toughest challenges the community will face -- consolidating everyone's ideas and plans for the future into one common goal.
A host of new economic development tools are available, Gordon said. Governing bodies can issue general obligation bonds. Local authorities can issue revenue bonds. Property tax incentives and tax increment financing for potential businesses are also open to government agencies seeking economic growth.
Glynn County also has redevelopment powers available to it under the Georgia Constitution, which allow it to create a tax allocation district to boost property taxes, but it first needs to bring together its governing bodies to unlock those powers. State law requires a local act from the community's delegation to the Georgia General Assembly. After that, a referendum must be passed by the public.
At the end of the meeting, chamber President Woody Woodside was asked to draw up resolutions for the county and city commissions, and the school board to pass to send to the legislature in 2015.
What happens in the meantime, Brunswick Commissioner Felicia Harris said, will rely heavily on each entity and a willingness to show respect for and collaborate with each other.
"If we in this room can't come together, then all this is for naught," Harris said.
* Reporter Kelly Quimby writes about government and other local topics. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 265-8320, ext. 321.