Council: No money for EDGE
by Jon Gillooly
March 01, 2012 12:33 AM | 2273 views | 9 9 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb Chamber officials pitched Competitive EDGE to the City Council during Wednesday’s series of committee meetings, but even after the presentation, none of the Council members said they were willing to give city funds to the economic development program.

Demming Bass, the Chamber’s chief operating officer, delivered the presentation while flanked by Chamber CEO David Connell and Chairman Tony Britton.

Bass said the proposed 501(c)3 being formed to promote economic development would be staffed by the Chamber’s economic development staff. In addition, the Chamber would provide the group space in which to locate and help with its fundraising. Bass said it would largely be funded by the private sector and through federal and state grants.

However, “the most successful programs are true public/private partnerships where the public sector does invest, so this is something that is going to be open to any of our cities and county and school systems,” Bass said. “If they see something specific in the plan that they’d like to invest in, we would more than welcome that. However, this is led by the private sector.”

Mayor Steve Tumlin was not in attendance during the presentation, but he is on record as opposing the use of city funds going to the EDGE program because Marietta has its own economic development department. Marietta Board of Education members recently announced that they shared Tumlin’s position.

After the meeting, all of the council members rejected the idea of giving EDGE city funds, with the exception of Van Pearlberg, who will soon resign his seat to run for a Cobb Superior Court judgeship.

“I don’t see how we can justify giving the EDGE money when we need it to support our own economic development department, basically,” Councilman Anthony Coleman said.

Council members Jim King and Johnny Sinclair said they were following the Mayor’s lead.

“I think they’ve got a hard job ahead of them,” Sinclair said. “If they can convince Mayor Tumlin to financially support the program, they’ve got a good chance. If not, it’s dead on arrival.”

Councilman Grif Chalfant said he hoped the Chamber/EDGE officials would not ask the city for money.

“We need every warm body we’ve got here, which means we’re not going to have anymore money to give out,” Chalfant said.

Councilwoman Annette Lewis said the city needs to spend its economic development money on the city’s economic development opportunities. Flipping through the presentation Chamber officials handed out about the proposal, Lewis said she saw nothing that addresses the needs of Marietta.

“It will say the Six Flags Corridor. It says South Cobb Drive Corridor. It says this, this,” Lewis said. “I didn’t see anything specific to Marietta. Right now, what I’m saying is why should we put our funds to redevelop Six Flags?”

Councilman Philip Goldstein said, “At this time I don’t believe we have the money that we can provide,” while Pearlberg said, “I’m going to have to study the issue a little more.”

Among those in the audience was Larry Wills of Marietta, who said he was interested to see the Chamber/EDGE presentation highlight the need to establish a land bank authority to acquire tax delinquent or blighted properties in support of redevelopment.

“Local governments can set up land banks,” Wills said. “I don’t know why you have to delegate this to another authority, and if Cobb County or the City of Marietta sets up a land bank, you’d have more citizen control of it.”

But Wills objected to the EDGE proposal, saying the whole purpose was to “get around home rule.”

“The citizen has no control over what these things do,” Wills said. “There’s no home rule over these entities. Every time they set up a quasi-government entity, it costs the tax payers money, and that’s one reason the cost of government has skyrocketed since the late 1990s.”
Comments-icon Post a Comment
March 01, 2012
Who is Demming Bass and what is he trying to do to our county?

Can't the folks at the Chamber just do their jobs and stop trying to usurp the authroty and responsibility of our county and cities?

These guys are out of control!!!
Vinings ED
March 02, 2012
It's truly amazing that Cobb will let the no-growth crowd control their destiny.

If these were all private dollars, would the tin-foil hat crowd cease their vocal and uninformed opposition? Because the best ED programs are partnerships, regardless of the dollars involved.

Who does this stuff now? The one County employee?

Let's join the big leagues and compete with those communities that are eating our lunch.

Oh, I don't work at the Chamber; just have experience with ED on a national level and live here and care about this County.

The personalities involved are unimportant, it's the PLAN that matters.
March 02, 2012
How incredibly DUMB!!

It's not a PLAN that sells the community it is the PEOPLE implementing the plan.

Just like in football, you can have a great playbook, but if you don't have the right coach and competent players you are going to lose more games than you win.

Several years ago when the Chamber had different people in leadership roles we were doing very well.

We were the ones that were winning the projects and creating jobs.

We were kicking Gwinnett's butt!!

Then along came Rob Garcia, David Connell and Demming Bass and things started going sour quickly.

Their so called PLAN doesn't seem to be working very well.

Maybe we need to take an objective look at the current leadership and determine whether they are actually doing their job or just making things worse.

It seems to me that their concept of ED success is how much money, influence and power they can accumulate, not how many businesses, companies and jobs they attract to our community.
March 01, 2012
I'm starting to feel for these guys. It must be scary facing the private sector after all these years in Fat City.
March 01, 2012
Looks like the officials in Marietta are able to see right through this Chamber scam.

We can only hope that others will have the same good judgement.

It is simply a way to put the power in the hands of the Chamber.

Their recent actions (more like clumsy bumblings) have demonstrated that they are not only inept, but primarily interested in promoting their own agenda without regard to the welfare community as a whole.

They are a tool of the favored special interests in Cobb County.

The leadership at the Chamber needs to be replaced.

When that occurs then the Chamber will take a big step in the direction of restoring its' reputation in the community.

mk - ain't happenin'
March 01, 2012
Watch, as Norcross gets casino's.

Watch as Marta puts a line through Gwinnett.

Watch Gwinnett grow -

world headquarters, manufacturing & tech corridor!

Cobb is in decline! (because of the crooks runnin' the show)!

Pissed in Mableton
March 02, 2012
Gwinnett, while not perfect, has put aside politics for the sake of economic development. Everytime I hear about growth and development, its in Gwinnett County. When North Fulton was maxed out, Gwinnett embraced its international community and made it work. Yes, they have their ghetto pockets but their ghettos can run circles around our hoods like Austell and Powder Springs.

Meanwhile in Cobb, we are stuck in yesteryear.
March 01, 2012
EDGE needs to be funded by the private sector, PERIOD.
Kennesaw Resident
March 01, 2012
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