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3-10-09 Oconee Chairman Davis is right in questioning joint economic plan with Athens-Clarke

AVOC supports Melvin Davis in his reservations about Economic Development ‘Partnership’

AVOC

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March 9, 2009

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Oconee Chairman Davis is right in slowing joint economic plan with Athens-Clarke

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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There are reports that Oconee Chairman Melvin Davis has lost some enthusiasm for the Oconee-Athens-Clarke Economic Development Partnership.   That is a good thing.

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 Melvin Davis

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AVOC supports Melvin Davis in his reservations about Economic Development ‘Partnership’

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We need cooperation and regional efforts.However, to merge economic development departments is not a good thing.   The Task Force made its report in May 2008 and before the current recession became more pronounced.   While several of the members may have resided in Oconee County, other than two bankers, most have offices and major interests in Athens-Clarke County.   Our bankers tend to serve on all area economic boards but they now have problems of their own.

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No one can question my Regional Cooperation Credentials.   I spent years working on regional efforts- particularly Bear Creek Reservoir in Jackson County.A truly regional effort involves more than two counties.Oconee is not an equal partner with Athens-Clarke in population and resources.    Oconee County will eventually be merged into the Athens-Clarke Power Structure.    A regional effort should have been made to expand the Bear Creek Reservoir with Athens-Clarke, Barrow and Jackson.   That effort could have used existing infrastructure on water needs rather than go with Walton County on the “Iffy” Hard Labor Creek Project – 18 miles from the Oconee Boundary!

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Friends and associates have commented to me that they could not understand why Oconee County would consider such a partnership.   Past efforts of cooperation on the Orkin Project graphically illustrate the inability to get true cooperation from some in the Athens power structure.

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Oconee Demographics and population are not that compatible with those of Athens-Clarke.   Certainly, the politics are not compatible.  

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The March 9, 2009, article by Adam Thompson tends to show Commissioners Luke and Daniell in support of the idea.   Maybe they need more experience in real regional politics.   I am willing to give Melvin Davis credit for learning something about it in his 8 years of working with Athens-Clarke and area counties.   A joint effort needs more than a large county and a small county as “Partners”!


FOR ORKIN BACKGROUND, SEE: 10-31-08 Oconee – Clarke Economic Development partnership is bad idea as proposed

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Joint efforts are needed on development of the Orkin Property.   I have advocated this for 15 years since Mercedes considered the site.   However, we could never get the needed cooperation from Athens-Clarke County.   In my last months in office in late 2000, Doc Eldridge, Athens-Clarke Mayor, and I were in agreement on a memorandum of understanding.   It was built on the foundation of joint efforts on the Orkin Property.   I also advocated a “working partnership’ with the owners, the Orkin Family.   They had shown much interest in working on something of quality for this site.   They once said they wanted it to be a “signature development” near the University of Georgia.

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Everybody has a different opinion about what to do.   I once proposed a development plan that would be paid equally by Oconee and Clarke and include an agreement with Orkin.   I sensed some Athens officials did not want it because they could still dominate the utility needs.   That would allow much domination over placement of any facility coming to the site.   Approximately 2/3rds of the 900 acre + or -, is in Oconee County.However, that is the part that abuts University Parkway (GA 316).

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Ideas such as an authority, incorporation as a municipality and annexation into Bogart were considered.    The incentive was the fact that a purchaser or potential investor would want to deal with one-shop permitting, regulation and taxation.   Doc Eldridge and I had good ideas on those problems.   However, it has dragged on and the Orkin Tract still looks about like it did in 1993 when Governor Zell Miller agreed to buy and grade the site for Mercedes.


10-31-08 Oconee – Clarke Economic Development partnership is bad idea as proposed

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10-16-08 Oconee Politics – Growth - Athens influence – Good & Bad

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5-26-06 Some Good News and Some Bad News in economic circles in NEGA

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4-14-07 Attitude limits Athens-Clarke Influence on Regional & State Issues

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http://onlineathens.com/multimedia/pdfs/100808development_agency.pdf

Executive Summary of AC-C and Oconee

Joint economic initiative report dated May 21, 2008

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See Page 12 for Membership and Resources

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Chairman Melvin Davis justifiably has reservations about the Joint Economic Plan with Athens-Clarke

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The Athens Banner-Herald

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/030909/new_406935514.shtml

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March 9, 2009

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Message mixed on regional economic plan

Regional merger

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By Adam Thompson 

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WATKINSVILLE - A push to fuse economic development efforts in the region has stalled in Oconee County, even as Athens-Clarke County commissioners finalized their support last week.

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But while Oconee County Commission Chairman Melvin Davis has said he doesn't plan to bring the matter for a vote anytime soon, the regional idea's still alive there, according to other county officials.

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But Davis recently said he didn't think the matter would come to a vote any time in the near future and indicated his support for the program may have waned.

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"I do think from a regional standpoint we may be very effective," he said. "But there's also issues, I think, that each county has to look at. We're so different from Athens-Clarke in a lot of ways. The funds that we have available - we don't have a motel-hotel tax that we can fund this with. ... (We have a lot of) budget constraints; that's one of the concerns of this."

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Officials still haven't decided what will happen to Oconee County's own economic development department and the Athens-Clarke Economic Development Foundation if their funding is combined for a new agency.

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The task force's recommendation was to roll together the money each currently is spending on their economic development departments………..


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