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Aug 13, 2009

City Development Group Working on Promotion

If it wasn’t so aggressive, the city of Douglasville Development Authority could almost suffer an identity crisis.

First, there was the Douglas County Development Authority, which looks for economic development opportunities throughout the county and has been in existence for a while.

Then, there was the Downtown Development Authority, whose mission is to revitalize and redevelop the downtown Douglasville business district and finance projects within the area that runs roughly from Rose Avenue to Highway 92.

Finally, there’s the Douglasville Development Authority — the new kid on the block, so to speak. Started about a year ago by the city to enhance economic development inside its limits, the authority is busy working to distinguish itself and to promote, promote, promote.

It has already tackled the daunting task of hiring an executive director, who came aboard in April. Now Jamie Gilbert’s biggest mission is to promote the authority, targeting local existing and seeking new businesses that would benefit from the authority’s services.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Gilbert emphasized the need to meet with local businesses to let them know about the authority, what it’s doing and how it can help them achieve their goals. So far, Gilbert has identified about 40 businesses to contact.

Topics of discussion ranged from marketing to buzz words such as “business retention” and “expansion.”

The authority is hoping to boost its presence by establishing a Web site, which could be up and running by mid-September. Additional marketing plans focus on developing materials, including an annual report, for distribution. Board members agreed that inclusion of an annual report would be a valuable tool to show that the authority is a serious entity in addition to putting it on the public’s radar screen. Gilbert will present samples of a newsletter and annual report to the board’s next meeting for approval.

Ideally, the authority hopes to capitalize in a big way when it sponsors the November Chamber of Commerce luncheon, for which board members authorized $1,000.

“This will be a great opportunity to explain what the authority is about, to maximize exposure,” Gilbert said, explaining that the mission at that time would be to talk about the business retention and expansion program.

Mayor Mickey Thompson cautioned that sponsors only have five minutes to talk and suggested that the authority could get additional exposure by videotaping and placing a CD at each seat. He offered the use of the city’s TV facilities and staff to film the message.

Other items on the agenda included:

  • finalizing a lease agreement between Georgia Highlands College and the city of Douglasville;
  • meeting with developers of the Bright Star Road Connector project to give them site plans and to discuss maximum use of the property;
  • hiring part-time office assistance to provide Gilbert with clerical help. Mayor Thompson offered a temporary solution from his office, but Gilbert will look into hiring a college intern as a long-term option;
  • examining and discussing the 2010 budget;
  • and approval for Gilbert to attend the International Development Conference and the Site Selection Network Conferences Oct. 2-7 in Reno, Nevada.