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City development authority taking shape

POSTED: April 2, 2013 8:30 a.m.
File photo/

Hinesville Assistant City Manager Kenneth Howard is helping the Hinesville Development Authority get organized.

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The Hinesville Development Authority is starting to take shape. With members selected by the city council, the authority met for the first time March 19 to discuss its purpose, bylaws, officer elections and other concerns, according to Assistant City Manager Kenny Howard.
Howard is serving as executive director of the new development authority. He said he and his staff in the Hinesville Community Development Department will assist the HDA’s officers when they’re elected and will continue to support the authority until it’s running on its own.
“City council members adopted a resolution last month to establish the Hinesville Development Authority,” Howard said. “They were then given the task of finding someone to fill the positions on the authority.”
Howard said Mayor Jim Thomas and Liberty County Board of Commissioners Chairman Donald Lovette will serve on the HDA with Justin McCartney, an accountant for Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation; Justin Frasier, a Liberty County commissioner; Paul Johnson, a retired banker; Robert Bell, Liberty County Extension coordinator; and Vicky Nelson, director of the Long County Head Start program.
Howard said the purpose of the HDA is to develop Hinesville within the city limits but outside the downtown area. He said they will be creating a mission statement in the near future in order to more clearly define HDA’s role in enhancing the quality of life for all of Hinesville.
“There is no competition with the Liberty County Development Authority, which is primarily focused on attracting industry to the area,” Howard said. “The HDDA is geographically restricted to within specific boundaries — from the corner of U.S. 84 and Gen. Stewart Way, up Stewart Way to Gen. Screven Way and back down Screven Way to U.S. 84.”
He said there is “some spillage” over those boundaries for the HDDA’s scope of authority, but there are lots of areas outside those boundaries that are going undeveloped. He suggests there is plenty of opportunity in the western part of Hinesville along E.G. Miles Parkway to Airport Road.
Howard said the HDA might set up what he called “opportunity zones” that could include tax incentives for both developers and employers. Before getting started, however, he said it is important for each member of the authority to be educated on the basics of a development board. He said the next meeting will include information about training opportunities for board members, noting that only two members have previous experience sitting on a development-authority board.
“I have contacted the (Carl) Vinson Institute of Government about conducting training here on site,” he said. “I’m going to have to look into where to get the money for this training and how much it’ll cost.”
At the time the city council approved the resolution to establish the HDA, it was understood there were no extra funds in the city’s budget to support the new authority.
Howard emphasized the HDA is an independent development authority, although he said he expects it to work closely with the mayor and city council, keeping them updated about projects and status reports.
“There was a missing link in the city for developing business opportunities within the city limits but outside the downtown area,” he said, noting that he worked with the HDDA for about 18 months to help it get started. “We’re brand new. Right now, I’m the staff person for the authority. My staff and I will do pretty much what we did for the HDDA.”
Howard said the HDA members decided during their first meeting to reserve the third Tuesday of each month for meetings. In addition to training opportunities, he said, the next meeting will focus on electing officers and voting on the authority’s bylaws.

 

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