There’s a new development authority in Hinesville, but Mayor Jim Thomas said it won’t compete with what the other two do, that it will complement them.
“We don’t want to compete against Ron (Tolley). Those guys have a head start and I already serve on that board,” the mayor said after Thursday’s city council meeting, referring to the Liberty County Development Authority and its CEO.
The other authority is the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, which concentrates on bringing activity and retail business to Hinesville’s core.
State law authorizes development authorities to issue bonds to “further development of trade, commerce, industry and employment opportunities,” according to the city’s resolution that was approved last month.
Thomas, however, described the new authority as more promotional than industrial.
He said he proposed the larger city authority after outlying business interests approached him. Examples he used were getting more Christmas decorations and activities such as the downtown Farmers Market outside the core.
“They wanted to be included in more things,” he said.
Friday, City Manager Billy Edwards said that while the authority will be a formal organization, no staff will be hired and it does not have a separate budget.
“Any work that requires staff will be done by current employees,” Edwards said.
At Thursday’s city council meeting, members nominated residents of their districts to sit on the authority. District 1’s Charles Frasier named Vickie Anderson. Jason Floyd named Justin Van McCartney in District 2. David Anderson named Justin Frasier in District 3. Keith Jenkins named Paul Johnson in District 4. And Kenneth Shaw named Robert Bell in District 5. The mayor and Liberty County Commission chairman also are on the authority, as per the resolution. So Thomas and Donald Lovette also are members.
After they serve initial four-year terms, members’ terms will be staggered in length.
In a bit of irony earlier in the meeting, Tolley reported to the council on the Liberty County Development Authority’s activity last year. Edwards said it was a coincidence that Tolley was on the agenda when the new authority was discussed.
While talking about job growth, hosting industrial prospects, expansion of existing plants and the minutia of attracting business, Tolley said, “We’re pleased to report our trends are still doing well.”
Councilmen Kenneth Shaw and Charles Frasier both questioned whether there were current prospects and tried to get Tolley to say how many requests for information or proposals had been issued during the year.
Tolley, however, like many industrial recruiters, would not be pinned down.
“We continue to have lots of activity and requests for information,” he said.