Recent activity along the Ga. 400 corridor and in the city of Dawsonville has officials optimistic the local economy is starting to see signs of recovery.
“Anytime you have some activity going on, it creates an interest in the county,” said Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County.
News this summer that the Varsity planned to open a new restaurant in the county brought a surge of interest to the area.
“We’ve had several other restaurant companies and agents that work on behalf of restaurant chains come to us in the last few weeks, since Varsity announced, looking at properties along Ga. 400,” Auvermann said.
Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner said he is encouraged by the movement of new business and industry to the area.
“It’s evident that businesses are looking at Dawson County in the fact that the Varsity has broken ground, and Krystal and Racetrack are shortly behind and will be doing the same later this year,” he said.
Other signs the economy may be leveling out are in tax revenue collections.
“We currently are flat or up a half to 1 percent compared to last year in our local option sales tax collections,” Tanner said. “We just received funds from the state for the month of July and for that month, it was almost identical to the amount we received in 2009. We expect that pattern to hold through the end of the year.”
The school system is also seeing better results from sales tax, said superintendent Keith Porter.
“With the cuts at the state level, we depend so much on the local tax collections,” he said.
But Auvermann cautioned, the county is not “out of the woods just yet” with the unemployment rate near 11 percent and local business owners finding themselves closing their doors.
“As long as you’ve got that many people unemployed, you have really got to continue to try to look for more businesses that bring jobs for more people,” he said.
Auvermann said regional development authorities are using a basic economics lesson to attract business.
“When your business is having a hard time because of a recession, that’s when you keep your salesman going, keep your marketing going, keep your advertising going and get your name out there,” he said.
The philosophy may be paying off in the city of Dawsonville, where a company that is currently working with the development authority hopes to close on a piece of property within the next few months.
“It’s a rather modest company but it could potentially bring in about 100 jobs once it gets going, and that’s pretty significant,” Auvermann said.