While Cherokee County did not nab a big economic development project in 2012, that isn't deterring Cherokee County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens from seeing the bright spots for 2013.
Ahrens outlined what he determined to be the highlights of 2012 and what the county expects to achieve in 2013 in his State of the County address to the Council For Quality Growth on Wednesday.
While the county's organization is "stable," Ahrens noted it has to keep "raising the bar" in order to be successful in 2013.
In 2012, Cherokee County was able to weather the economic downturn and build a budget surplus, garner a second opportunity zone designation from the state, cut its E911 response time from 2:08 minutes to 1:37 minutes, incorporate a wellness initiative for its employees and reduce plan approvals for its Development Services Center from 172 days to 10 days--while reducing annual operating costs by over $1 million.
Ahrens also pointed to some of the county's successes it's been able to achieve since the Great Recession, such as having the top 20% lowest millage rate in the state, the second lowest tax burden and spending per capita in the 10-county Atlanta region and lowest number of employees per capita in the 10-county region.
Cherokee also maintained the highest S&P Investment Rating (AA+) in its history last year.
The successes of its agencies include:
- Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services being awarded the No. 1 EMS agency in the state;
- Cherokee E911 being awarded the Communications Call Center of the Year
- Fire Department lauded as top 15 best places to work by Georgia Trend magazine
- Having 1 of 4 Nationally Accredited E911 centers by the Commission on Accredication for Law Enforcement Agencies in the state;
- Having a nationally accredited sheriff’s office through CALEA
The chairman noted the county has a lot to look forward to in 2013: the opening of the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, the completion of its aquatic center off Sixes Road in Holly Springs and the opening of Northside Hospital's medical office building on Towne Lake Parkway.
He also seemed confident the county will find a new operator for the failed Ball Ground Recycling facility.
The Council for Quality Growth is a not-for-profit group that includes a diverse set of members, ranging from bankers to planners, who have an interest in growth and development.