Long County Development Authority Chairman Dan Norman said the biggest move forward the authority board made last year was to hire Interim Executive Director and Consultant Chuck Scragg. Scragg was an industrial recruiter with Georgia Power for 22 years and has assisted Glynn, Gilmer and Brantley counties with their economic development efforts.
He is well respected in economic development organizations across the state, according to Norman, and understands state mandates and regulations.
Scragg was hired last October on a part-time basis help guide the authority for six months.
Long County, being a rural county with no large-scale manufacturing and a workforce of 3,745, where 87.6 percent of those workers commute to jobs out of the county, can be challenging, according to Scragg.
Scragg said Long County is seeing an influx of new residents who are buying or renting newer homes that have been recently built. He explained that many of these residents are paying property taxes, but stressed that this tax revenue doesn’t necessarily cover a growing population’s increased demand for public services.
To balance the tax digest, Long County must bring in more industry and commercial enterprises, Scragg said. He said the authority has restarted its initiative for industrial recruitment and is seeking small to medium-size manufacturers to locate here.
“Our real interest is to try to market the property we have,” Norman said, referring to the authority’s industrial park off Highway 84.
Scragg said the 50-acre site has a vacant building on the property that is owned by a private individual who wants to sell, and has given the authority permission to help facilitate a sale. The authority owns 41 acres in the park, with existing utilities provided for future tenants.
“It’s a process and it takes time,” Scragg said.
The authority’s interim director said the authority is open to acquiring and developing more sites in the future.
Norman said authority members intend to identify properties that have industrial potential and to encourage commercial development surrounding the city of Ludowoci.
“We’re doing whatever we can to bring business and industry in for tax base growth,” he said.
Norman said the authority does not currently have the funds to purchase a lot of property. He credits Scragg and the Long County Board of Commissioners for helping to boost the authority’s current operating budget.
At a commission meeting in December, county commissioners approved .25 percent of 1 mill to go toward the Development Authority effective July 1, according to Scragg. He said this will give the authority an estimated $71,250 to help fund its efforts.
“Which is a large increase over what we had,” Scragg said, referring to the authority’s previous $5,500 annual budget.
Scragg praised his board for their dedication, describing them as “supportive and extremely proactive.”
Norman agreed. “We have good representation and good participation which is very important.”
The Long County Development Authority also was awarded a $167,036 OneGeorgia Equity grant this past year.
These funds will be used for road improvements in the industrial park.
“For a very long time, Long County has struggled to recruit business and industry into their county,” said Rep. Jones in a news release. “It is my understanding that 87.6 percent of the working population of Long County commutes out of the county to work every day. By providing highway accessibility, it gives the County and Development Authority a means whereby they can recruit industry into the county to provide jobs for their workforce.”
The award was approved on December 17, 2018 at the OneGeorgia Authority Board meeting. The Long County Commission voted to match $45,000 of the grant costs and the Development Authority of Long County will contribute $100,000 toward the match; the entire project will cost $312,036.
Norman and Scragg said the authority would meet for its first strategic planning session on Jan. 24, at the Coastal Regional Commission in Darien. A facilitator from Georgia EMC will help coordinate the goal-setting workshop.
Along with Norman, members of the authority include: Vice-Chairman Jimmy Shanken, Treasurer/Secretary Lilah Bell, and Members Lillian Simmons, Brent Klinedinst, Wallace Shaw, Kerry Hunt, Anthoney Smith and Daisy Jones.
Scragg can be reached at 912-545-2143 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The authority’s website is longcountyeda.com.