Malaika Rivers, the CID’s executive director, said she and other county officials visited Charlotte on May 11 to tour its transit hub, which connects a light rail line with a bus system.
CID board member Peter Kasian, a director with the Tishman Speyer real estate management firm, was also in attendance.
“They are very formidable competition to us,” Kasian said of Charlotte. “That’s a very cool little place, and I think that from a transportation standpoint they definitely have a lead on us because they are doing an integrated approach, and it’s just working so well.”
Rivers also praised Charlotte’s transportation system.
“The eight of us went and took a look at how Charlotte is utilizing high-capacity transit light rail and express lane corridors and came away very impressed with the whole situation,” Rivers said.
Others who attended included county manager David Hankerson, Cobb transportation director Faye DiMassimo, Cobb Chamber of Commerce CEO David Connell, Chamber Chief Operating Officer Demming Bass and two members of the Town Center Area CID, she said.
Kasian said they spoke with the head of Charlotte’s Chamber of Commerce, who talked about “what a competitive advantage they have to Atlanta when competing for business like Chiquita.”
“They pounded away at our transportation system versus Charlotte’s transportation system,” Kasian said.
The Cumberland CID has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on television commercials about the upcoming July 31 transportation referendum.
In other business, the board approved a $60,472 request from Rivers to contract with Georgia Tech’s research division to study the CID.
“It will give us a very good insight into how the community has trended and what the impacts of the CID has been, and all of this goes to inform our information for our investors, for our government funders, and for our variety of different stakeholders so that we can shape our message accordingly,” Rivers said.
An economic study done three years ago revealed that Cumberland made up 5.1 percent of the state’s total economy, she said.
“That’s a very, very impactful number, and it’s one that I use when talking to government funders all the time,” she said.
CID Chairman Tad Leithead said the board also hired a program manager, Jacobs Engineering, to manage its current projects through the end of the year for an amount not to exceed $301,500. In the past, the CID has not had a program manager since it’s relied on the county government, Leithead said.
“In the past, we’ve paid for the front-end design, we’ve participated in the right-of-way acquisition, but then eventually we leveraged our funds against county, state and federal dollars. So Kennedy Interchange, for instance, we put in $7 million, even though it was a $100 million project,” Leithead said. “Over two or three years with some of these smaller projects — the interchange improvements, the turning lanes, the beatification projects, there really isn’t anyone to leverage those funds against, so we’ve decided that those are good projects for our district, and we’re paying for them on a dollar-for-dollar basis, so that requires that we actually have a manager who looks out for our interests in those projects.”
The CID board also voted to change its landscape maintenance firm. The CID formerly contracted with Valleycrest for a 12-month period for $216,815. It will now contract with Russell Landscape from June 1 to Dec. 31, 2012 for $155,966, Rivers said.