CUMBERLAND — Born from the premise the county could no longer rest on its laurels for continued economic success, Cobb’s Competitive EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy), an initiative of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and its community-wide partners, is celebrating its first anniversary.
But no need to run out and buy the program’s principals pictures, airplane tickets or books — paper is a traditional first-year anniversary gift — the only paper they’re interested in is green.
“We’re very excited to be at this milestone,” said EDGE co-chair Dan Styf. “Cobb EDGE gives us many opportunities to help the community.”
Last year, Cobb EDGE created nine new economic development programs; launched an existing industry outreach program, visiting more than 100 Cobb-based companies; announced the creation of more than 5,000 new jobs and $1 billion in new investment; and held its first redevelopment forum with more than 300 attendees.
“I am most proud of the community support,” said Brooks Mathis, executive director of Cobb Edge.. “The Cobb community embraced this program both with their financial resources and their time, making it successful. Without strong leadership backing our strategy, we would not be as successful and for those leaders I am extremely grateful, as is our community.”
Brooks who also serves as senior vice president and executive director economic development for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, said the seeds for Cobb EDGE were planted in 2012 when a 50-person steering committee came together to draft a community-wide survey and strategic plan, with some surprising results.
“Cobb is a great place to live and work, and that came through in a strong way,” Styf said, “but it was also very clear young people were choosing a different place to live. Long-term, a community can’t survive without young people.”
Another finding of the survey was the need for a single point of contact for economic development opportunities. Traditionally, when a large organization is considering a move, they contact state economic developers who reach out to local communities. In Cobb that meant seven points of contact. Today, Mathis and his staff are the go-to group for economic development in Cobb.
“Big deals require you to move fast,” said Styf, who is the senior vice president of operations for Piedmont/WellStar health plans. “I’m most proud of the fact we’ve built the system and the process well, so we can execute quickly when an opportunity presents itself.
Case in point: the Braves deal.
Last fall, it was announced the Atlanta Braves would be moving to Cobb County. Located near Cumberland Mall, the planned $672 million Cobb County stadium, as well as a projected $400 million mixed-use development that will accompany it, is scheduled to open in April 2017. The open-air, 41,000-seat stadium will be owned by the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority. The mixed-use development would be built and owned by the Braves.
The site is roughly 60 acres, and the stadium will go on approximately 14 acres. The remaining acres will be developed for mixed use; sports bars, residential, offices, shops and restaurants and potential hotels.
“The Braves development is less about baseball, than the development that will happen around it,” Styf said. “The mixed-use development will be a kind of downtown Cobb. The idea is we’re going to have a place that will be popular with young people.”
The EDGE initiative is composed of many community members, including a steering committee of Shan Cooper, Vice President & General Manager, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company (co-chair) Tim Lee, Chairman, Cobb County Board of Commissioners (co-chair) Kim Menefee, Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs, WellStar Health System (co-chair) Dan Styf.