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Frasier floats plan to help other cities in Liberty Co. attract commercial growth
Liberty County Commissioner Justin Frasier
Liberty County Commissioner Justin Frasier

Liberty County Commissioner Justin Frasier laid out his vision for a countywide economic development authority that could help boost commercial growth in the smaller municipalities.

Frasier brought his plans for a Liberty County Economic Development Authority to the rest of the commission at its mid-month meeting, with a focus on the smaller cities in the county. He said he had received letters of support from the mayors of Walthourville, Midway, Riceboro and Flemington.

“The why? The why is pretty much self-explanatory,” Frasier said. “It helps increase the strength and diversity of local and regional economies to create jobs and improve the quality of life for residents. Municipalities and regional districts can take various approaches and use specific tools and strategies to support economic development in their communities.”

The proposed authority members would include a representative from each of the other city councils and two members from the private sector.

Frasier initially did not include Hinesville, since the city has its own development authority and a downtown development authority.

“In my mind, how this would work is on the outside of Hinesville. In my opinion, we’re working outside that zone,” Frasier said. “It is a way we can help our smaller municipalities. They are not able to create incentives to help growth.”

Hinesville’s own authorities helped lead to the highly successful Oglethorpe Square, Frasier pointed out.

“It continues to be a tremendous success. We all remember what was there and what is there now,” said Frasier, who is a Hinesville resident and whose district lies within the city.

“But Hinesville is going to be OK. Hinesville is growing. When we look at a SWOT (strengths-weaknesses opportunities-threats) analysis, the issue isn’t Hinesville,” Frasier added. “The issue is we have other municipalities looking for commercial growth but they can’t recruit and they can’t recruit because they can’t incentivize.”

Commission Chairman Donald Lovette encouraged Frasier to rethink not having Hinesville as part of the authority.

“I think we could use their clout,” he said. “Plus, we have the history of being collaborative partners.”

Frasier said his idea was not set in stone and he wanted to get something in front of the commissioners they could consider and move forward. He also suggested the commissioners, who have a comprehensive plan for zoning in place, come up with a similar one solely for economic development.

“We need to figure out a comprehensive plan for economic growth and development,” Frasier said. “This region is on fire. Globally, they are looking at us. The more I thought about it, the more when we discuss who we are, what kind of economic footprint are we looking to make in this community. It’s up for grabs and it’s been up for grabs for a while.”

Frasier asked for a commissioners’ subcommittee to be formed to explore how to go forward and hoped the authority could be formed in 2024.

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