ABOUT THE STEPHENS COUNTY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
The Stephens County Development Authority was established in 1965 with the goal of achieving continued, sustainable economic growth in our area of Northeast Georgia. The board members and staff are an active, forward-thinking team seeking to diversify our economy, while encouraging business retention and expansion to improve the lives of our residents. The Stephens County Development Authority is the primary point of contact for economic development projects. It is a Georgia development authority and public body corporate and politic.
To encourage and support the expansion and development of industrial and commercial facilities in Stephens County, Georgia so as to promote employment. To accomplish our mission, SCDA works with public and private sector representatives to fully utilize their collective individual and organizational resources. We act as a people-focused resource of information to those interested in business opportunities in Stephens County, and as a moderator between business and individual interests.
The Stephens County Development Authority embraces diversity, inclusion and equity in order to lead the development of a thriving industrial and commercial economy in Stephens County. We believe that the full potential of our community cannot be fully realized if all people are not included regardless of race, background, social or economic status or other conditions that lead to exclusion. We are intentional in practicing inclusion in the areas of hiring, board governance, volunteering & contracting so as to ensure the inclusion of individuals from different ethnic, racial, cultural, gender, age, religious, disability, family-status & socio-economic backgrounds.
MORE THAN 50 YEARS OF SOLID ACHIEVEMENT
Method of Creation:
Local Constitutional Amendment
Constitutional Amendment, 1968, p. 854; continued, 1986, p. 4153
Single or Multi Jurisdictional:
SCDA Charter – Resolution
The SCDA is responsible for the recruitment of new businesses including industrial, manufacturing, distribution, corporate and regional headquarters and customer service centers. It also provides support and assistance with all other types of economic development projects.
The SCDA also works with existing businesses and industries to ensure their continued success. While recruitment of new industry is a significant function, aiding existing industry expansion and retention is just as significant. Over 80 percent of all new jobs in Georgia come as a result of existing industry expansion.
Since 2005, 17 industries have located or expanded in Stephens County, creating more than 900 new jobs and adding more than $63 million in new private investment in the community. These companies have constructed or occupied facilities totaling more than 916,000 square feet, on almost 150 acres of newly-developed or redeveloped land.
Stephens County has worked hard since the establishment of the Development Authority more than 50 years ago to develop its reputation as a business-friendly community. The county offers a well-educated and skilled labor force, comprehensive job training, affordable utilities and is easy access to and from major highways.
The county has two industrial parks with more than 60 manufacturing plants and is served by 11 banking offices. Toccoa is located 14 miles from Interstate I-85 and three miles from Hwy. 365/441 between Atlanta, GA and Greenville, SC. The area is also served by two railroads.
Created in 1968 to promote growth in Stephens County
Local leaders created the Stephens County Development Authority in 1965 to promote growth in this vibrant area of Northeast Georgia. The SCDA gained official status in 1968 by an act of the Georgia Legislature with the adoption of a local Constitutional Amendment and hired its first executive director.
The SCDA purchased 135 acres of land to from the Stephens County Industrial Park and acquired the Camp Toccoa property in 1969. A year later the authority issued its first revenue bonds to fund the construction of a Phillips Fibers plant in the new industrial park. The SCDA also sold its Camp Toccoa property in 1970 to Milliken and Co. as the site of a new textile plant.
Growth continued in Stephens County under the guidance of local government and the SCDA, and the authority purchased 185 acres of land in 1979 to establish the Meadowbrook Industrial Park. Additionally, 110 acres was added to the development in 1993 and the SCDA built its first spec building there in 1995. The reach of the SCDA was extended in 1995 when local officials formed a Joint Development Authority with Hart and Franklin Counties.
The authority purchased 425 acres from four local families in 1997 to create the Hayestone Brady Business Park. The SCDA and local leaders secured $10 million in federal funding in 2005 to fund infrastructure improvements. A public-private partnership with the Rooker Corp. added a $3 million spec building to the site in 2007. In 2020 SCDA added an additional 134 acres of adjacent property to its business park.
In an ongoing effort to make the county more attractive to industrial developers, in 2013 the SCDA voted to file an application with the state to make the business park and adjacent property on Highway 17 an enterprise zone.
Joint Development Authority
Stephens County joined Franklin County and Hart County’s Industrial Building Authority in the Joint Development Authority in 1996. Through regular collaboration, the JDA initiates and manages development projects in Northeast Georgia impacting the three counties in the growing I-85 corridor.
MARKETING EFFORTS FOCUSED ON POOL OF AVAILABLE WORKERS
The JDA is a legislative authority (not a constitutional authority) and is comprised of four voting members from each participating county, for a total of 12 voting members. Members are appointed by their respective county commissioners and serve staggered four year terms. The maximum JDA turnover is 50 percent per election cycle.
The JDA has worked to accomplish many major initiatives including the widening of Hwy 17, maximizing the Hartwell Railroad, and expanding and filling the joint development park. Marketing has shifted from individual counties with an approximate population of 25,000 residents each, to a regional focus which includes more than 100,000 residents.
The JDA’s first project was Gateway Industrial Park, a fully developed 150-acre industrial park completed in 2005. Within weeks of completing the industrial park’s infrastructure, the Joint Development Authority had already received its first new industry. From that date forward, industrial development has flourished in the tri-county area, yielding outstanding results for all the surrounding communities.
The Gateway industrial development encompasses land in both Hart and Franklin counties. The property was purchased for $1.4 million through low-interest or no-interest loans procured by the tri-county authority. Grants from the state of Georgia and the federal government, as well as local sales tax revenues, have helped pump more than $1.5 million into the project for grading, road work, sewer lines, water lines and a 500,000-gallon water tower.
LOCAL, REGIONAL, STATEWIDE, NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL
Our mission is to spur investment, support business growth, and foster developments that create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, and drive growth to every corner of Stephens County. Armed with flexible financing products, a targeted portfolio of industrial and commercial real estate, and decades of Stephens County-based knowledge, SCDA provides the resources and expertise to help you invest, develop, and grow. Our ability to achieve our mission is enhanced by our affiliation with local, regional, statewide, national and international development organizations like these.
Joint Development Authority
Stephens County joined Franklin County and Hart County’s Industrial Building Authority to create the Joint Development Authority in 1996.
Through regular collaboration, the JDA initiates and manages development projects in North Georgia impacting the three counties in the growing I-85 corridor.
The JDA business plan spells-out major initiatives including Hwy 17 widening, maximizing the Hartwell Railroad, the joint development park, etc. Marketing has shifted from individual counties with about 25,000 residents each to a regional focus which includes more than 100,000 residents. A commuting workforce from South Carolina further increases the pool of available employees.
Georgia Mountains Regional Commission
The Georgia Mountains Regional Commission (GMRC) is a sub-state district created by local governments in 1962 under provisions of Georgia Enabling Law. The purpose of the GMRC is to locally promote and guide proper development of human, natural, physical, social and economic resources in the Georgia Mountains Region. The area covers 3,500 square miles, and includes Banks, Dawson, Forsyth, Franklin, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, and White Counties.
The GMRC offers a wide variety of services to its 51 local governments, which include 13 counties and 38 municipalities. The GMRC works with these entities to formulate goals and strategies for area growth and development. Upon request, the GMRC provides a variety of technical assistance that will improve community services and the quality of life for Georgia Mountains residents.
The GMRC is guided by a 44-member Council. It is composed of individuals appointed by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker and one county elected official, one city elected official and one private sector individual from each of our 13 counties. City, County and private sector representatives are chosen by the cities and counties they represent. The Council is responsible for all policy decisions.
Chamber of Commerce
Since 2005, 17 industries have located or expanded in Stephens County,
creating more than 900 new jobs and adding more than $63 million in new
private investment in the community. These companies have constructed or occupied facilities totaling more than 916,000 square feet, on almost 150 acres of newly-developed or redeveloped land.
The Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the interests of its 400-plus valued Members who represent our community including business, educational, professional, civic, recreational, industrial and political arenas. Members identify opportunities to solve challenges and shape the future of business and the community. The Chamber staff provides leadership, coordinates interested parties and initiates action.
The Chamber is most often the first stop for visitors to Stephens County, as well as potential investors and businesses. The Chamber provides information on the county’s rich history, manufacturing, retail and service industries, award winning public schools, state of the art medical facilities, superior public utilities, outstanding community amenities, tourist attractions, unsurpassed natural beauty and outdoor recreation including Lake Hartwell … the Great Lake of the South.
Phone: 706-886-2132 | Fax: 706-886-2133
Georgia Economic Developers Association
The Georgia Economic Developers Association is a non-profit association of professionals and volunteers who are involved with the economic development of the cities and counties of Georgia.
GEDA was organized to increase the effectiveness of individuals involved in the practice of economic development in Georgia by encouraging cooperation, exchange of information, and upgrading of professional skills.
GEDA strives to achieve a closer working relationship among professionals and volunteers engaged in economic development in Georgia.
Transatlantic Business & Investment
The Transatlantic Business & Investment Council is an international group that has become one of the major sources of manufacturing jobs in the United States. When American manufacturers move jobs overseas, the TBIC steps in to fill the void and create millions of well paid jobs in local communities across the U.S.
In December 2016, the TBIC helped fund the SCDA’s Executive Director, as he traveled to Turkey and Germany to visit the headquarters of two Stephens County’s international industries. Both Sark Wire, located in Turkey, and Nifco KTW, located in Germany, were overjoyed to have the opportunity to connect with leadership from their U.S. community.