City Councilman Bruce Jenkins, liaison to the seven member development board, told members that they have powers that the mayor and council don’t have, like an easier ability to buy property and bonds. But council members feel the development authority needs to have better connections with small businesses.
“They think that it’s great what you’re doing with the large corporations, but we want to have a connection with the small business as well,” he said. “Those home-grown businesses a lot of times are going to be the ones from our area that create jobs for this area as well, so we want to see some focusing in on that.”
Kennesaw Economic Development Director Bob Fox said projects like Fabric.com, which announced it was moving its warehouse with 200 jobs from Marietta to Kennesaw earlier this year after getting help from a $50,000 economic incentives agreement from the Kennesaw Development Authority, won’t come along every year.
“But, quite frankly, we might have 20 or 30 small businesses come along every year,” he said.
Board member Ken Williams said he would like to have more interaction with other development groups, including the Development Authority of Cobb County.
“They do a lot of things with a Kennesaw address, on Barrett Parkway, but Kennesaw doesn’t have anything to do with it,” Williams said.
Fox agreed that, while development authorities that compete against each other for projects have to be careful about what they say to each other, they can still learn from one another.
“What are their approaches, their tools, their processes?” Fox said. “I think the more of that we can have the better.”
The discussion was led by David Stewart, Georgia Power’s community development project manager.
Talks also turned to how the KDA can become more noticed. Jenkins suggested that it board meet in the city council chambers, as opposed to the conference room where it currently gathers. He also advised members to promote their meetings on the city’s LED message boards.
In addition, he said they should make themselves visible at Cobb Chamber and Kennesaw Business Association breakfast and lunch meetings.
“Somebody said, ‘There’s that Kennesaw mafia again,’ ” Jenkins recalled of a Chamber breakfast. “What that means is that at a Chamber breakfast, four or five of us show up. What other city does that? None. They can’t even get the mayor to show up.”
Officials also expressed hope for the long-stalled The Columns project at Kennesaw Due West Road and Cobb Parkway. Fox said a Metro Bank branch recently moved into the 34-acre site and he is in early discussions with another bank, a hotel and a restaurant.
At the start of its meeting at Smith-Gilbert Gardens, the board also unanimously voted to extend until Feb. 5 a discussion period with South City Partners on a five acre downtown “mixed use” development at Main Street and Watts Drive. Fox said that the development would include a parking garage with spaces for people using other downtown businesses.
Board members also talked about possible future developments, including bars and restaurants, along Cherokee Street that could lure Kennesaw State University students, but said doing so would require dealing with a number of land owners.