Economic development incentives, unfunded mandates and local legislation were topics for local elected officials and the Cherokee Legislative Delegation on Dec. 20. The local government representatives met with their state counterparts to discuss what they would like to see accomplished during the 2014 General Assembly, which convenes Jan. 13.
The face of the local delegation has changed substantially since the groups met last year: state Sens. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta (who took office in January 2013), and Bruce Thompson, R-Cartersville, replaced former senators Chip Rogers, who resigned his seat to work for Georgia Public Broadcasting, and Barry Loudermilk, who is running for U.S. House of Representatives, District 11. Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, remains as senator for southeast Cherokee.
Representatives Michael Caldwell, R-Woodstock, Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, and John Carson, R-Roswell, are joined by Rep. Scot Turner, R-Holly Springs, who also took office in January 2013, replacing former Rep. Sean Jerguson. The seat of the late Rep. Calvin Hill, R-Hickory Flat, will be filled in a special election on Jan. 7.
Although the delegation invited all the local governmental bodies to meet on Dec. 20, only the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (OED), the City of Holly Springs and the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners responded to the offer.
The Cherokee County School District transmitted its adopted Legislative Priorities for the coming session to the delegation after they were adopted on Nov. 7.
Both the Cherokee OED and the BOC were interested in having legislators explore ways that more state economic development funds could be directed toward the medium- and small-sized projects that Cherokee tends to attract.
The county lost a deal with a German company last year during final negotiations, when Charlotte, N.C., was able to offer a more attractive incentive package.
“It’s not that we are losing these deals to other cities, we are losing them to other states that offer better packages,” said County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens. “We’re losing these businesses to North Carolina and Texas.”