The city of Woodstock will soon lose another high-ranking employee.
Billy Peppers, the city's director of economic services, announced Wednesday afternoon that he has accepted a position with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Peppers will work in the department's Community Development & Finance Division.
The new position, which he said will be "challenging and rewarding," will involve him taking "best practices" in small business downtown and downtown development and showcasing those models to other communities across the state.
Peppers' resignation comes on the heels of former Community Development Director Richard McLeod taking the same position in the city of Alpharetta.
Peppers' last day with Woodstock is Nov. 30 and he will will start his new position on Dec. 3. Since joining the city, Peppers said he's seen the city transform into a hub of economic activity in Cherokee County.
"Since starting here as a fresh-faced 23 year-old in September 2005, I have learned a great deal about the struggles and successes of entrepreneurs by watching first-hand as they have dealt with the good times and have persevered the bad," he said. "I have seen the downtown Woodstock of today grow out of foreclosures, vacant retail spaces and business closings. Many said that downtowns were not the place to grow families, not the place to start businesses and definitely not worth the public investment."
Peppers added Woodstock is a "shining" example of how cities can invest in its central business district and see that investment pay off in positive ways. He alluded to the city's housing market coming back to life as an offshoot of the downtown success.
"With the success of downtown Woodstock and the coming outlet mall, Cherokee County residents can now choose to keep their money local and we can expect our neighbors in other counties to come here and help contribute through their sales taxes to our roads, schools, parks, and public safety … a distinct contrast from a decade ago," he said.
Peppers, 30, graduated from the University of Georgia in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Peppers has been employed with the city since 2005 as the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority and was chosen the city’s director of economic services in 2008.
He lives just outside of Canton with wife Julie Peppers and their son Turner. Both he and his wife are members of the Cherokee County Historical Society. He is a member of the Cherokee County Development Authority and the president of the Georgia Downtown Association.
Peppers extended his thanks to the community, Mayor Donnie Henriques and the city council and to City Manager Jeff Moon. He also expressed his gratitude "to downtown residents and businesses that have bought into the idea that downtown is a place that matters and is the heart of Woodstock."
Without them, he added, "the last seven years would not have been as special."
While Peppers noted he's excited about his new role, he said the change will be "bittersweet" as he's enjoyed his last seven years with the city.
"It has not been a perfect time," he said. "I have made mistakes and have sometimes had to nibble at my own foot, but it has been a joy."