Dawson County Commission Chair Mike Berg on Monday was sworn in as president of the Association of County Commissioners in Georgia.
A special ceremony was conducted by Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston and was held at the Savannah Civic Center as part of the 2013 ACCG Annual Conference.
This is an exciting year to serve as president as ACCG prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2014, said Berg. My priorities for the year are to draw upon my professional experience to further expand our marketing efforts, update our strategic plan and encourage better use of technology for continuing education.
Bergs new position will put a spotlight on the benefits of doing business in Dawson County.
Each time I make a presentation in front of all commissioners in the state, the lieutenant governor, speaker of the house and other entities, Im not going to miss the opportunity to say, Im from Dawson County, said Berg in an interview prior to his trip to Savannah. Those folks at the capitol talk to a lot of people about finding new locations for business.
Berg added that he is looking to attract additional manufacturing, retail and mid-sized companies to the area with one goal to create jobs.
More jobs mean a lower tax rate, he said. Look at LCG Welding who recently expanded into Dawson County. We made it easy for them to get things done. In a small county, people are on a first name basis, and theres a connectivity there that makes good sense for businesses.
He also noted several benefits Dawson County offers these businesses: access to the North Georgia high speed fiber optic network, an easy route for trucks to Atlanta, rural costs, Lanier Technical College, and a less expensive way of life.
We have to accentuate what we have and match that up with businesses whose needs we can meet,he added. We can do all this by good visioning and planning ahead.
Although he could not elaborate, Berg noted that he and other local entities are reaching out to businesses outside the state that would flourish in Dawson County, and that his new position with ACCG increases the countys visibility.
Long Range Visioning
The number one attraction in Dawson County is the Premium Outlet Mall, according to Berg, and attracting ancillary businesses that would feed the mall, and not compete with them, is another good business strategy.
We need to look at providing incentives to attract hotels, a convention center, and have some kind of a connection to the old Sembler property, like walkways, and you start to see the long range visioning process, he said.
The civic center in Gwinnett County, for example, was a project Berg worked on and voted for while serving as a commissioner in that county.
The typography's not the same in Dawson, but I think size-wise, yes, the Sembler property may afford us the opportunity to do that only on a much smaller scale. Having events next to the mall allows people to then shop, hike, and from there, you can spread out with a central base . . . you have to have a destination point. The Motorsports Park, for example, is a destination point, so how do we build on that?
SPLOST 5 Funds and the City of Dawsonville
At the end of 2014, SPLOST 5 (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funding for the City of Dawsonville ends. Also ending is an agreement that currently prevents the county from annexing property.
I dont want to do battle again over annexation around Porters place (the Atlanta Motorsports Park is owned by Jeremy Porter) because we dont offer the same opportunities as the city does, said Berg. And, with new city council members in place, maybe they will see the need to coagulate our thoughts so we dont fight over property.
Ill be working hard on that over the next year to make sure SPLOST 6 feeds them enough to make it work . . . we dont want another Calhoun Creek (Reservoir) popping up.
Dawson Countys close proximity to three hospitals provides enough access to meet the demands of its residents, Berg noted. And, the recent opening of two medical campuses on Hwy. 400 provides residents easy access to specialized medical care.
From a positive perspective, because of the unknowns with Obamacare, youre finding groups on the forefront trying to come up with strategic combinations to provide good quality healthcare, he said. I expect Northside Forsyth to have a surgery center on its fourth floor in the next few years.
A Solid Base of Support
District 9 State Rep. Kevin Tanner and Sen. Steve Gooch are ardent supporters of Berg's as is ACCG's Executive Director, Ross King.
"Mike is a very dynamic leader that will bring a renewed energy to the ACCG," said Tanner. Dawson County can be proud to have one of their commissioners leading this organization over the next year. Having worked with Mike in various roles over the past decade, I'm exited to see him reach this milestone.
Sen. Steve Gooch agrees.
"Mike is the first commissioner from Dawson County to ever hold the office of president of ACCG," he said." "It will afford him the opportunity to help shape hundreds of state laws that are passed each year that affect the counties and its citizens . . . I expect Mike's experiences and opportunities will be equally rewarding to the citizens of Dawson County during this new and exciting year for Mike and his wife, Jane."
Berg is serving in his third term as Chairman of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners. He is also chairman of the First Citizens Bank of Georgia Financial Corporation. He is a retired Georgia Power executive.
Chairman Berg's private sector experience with Georgia Power Company provides him with a seasoned perspective on organizational branding, value added strategic planning, a commitment to sound fiscal management and a purposeful perspective about the roles and responsibilities of an organizations staff," said ACCG Executive Director Ross King. He is a dedicated, highly dependable, purpose driven individual who possesses a keen intellect and a well placed sense of humor. We look forward to having him serve as the ACCG president.