In an effort to attract new business to downtown Dawsonville, Mayor James Grogran proposes offering free rent to businesses that bring jobs with them.
If you look at the Hockenhall building, its empty, Grogan said. If you look at the county buildings (located inside the city), some of them are empty. If you look at Dwight Gillelands building, its empty. I would like us to come up with a grant program for new businesses to come into the city. Were sitting here with nothing happening.
Grogan made the proposal during a city council work session April 20. Part of the proposal includes working with the citys development authority and funding it to administer the grants.
If, for example, the Dawson News & Advertiser wanted to come, wed fund their rent for three or six months. It would be a grant with no payback. Its an incentive for them to want to move businesses to our downtown area.
The city has no ad valorem taxes, which Grogan said hasnt been enough incentive to get new businesses downtown.
Maybe we could also do something with water, but we cant do anything with sewer, Grogan told the council. Even if we get one or two in, that activity is going to create activity.
Grogan said the city could start with $25,000, but that it also has $400,000 in a general reserve fund that could be used. Weve got the money to do this.
Council members appeared to be in favor of the proposal, with conditions.
Id like to see the guidelines and the structure of the grant program before we do anything, Council Member Caleb Phillips said. Mike Sosebee and Angie Smith agreed.
Dana (City Attorney Dana Miles) would develop something for us and present it at the next meeting, Grogan said.
Miles made his own proposal.
The reality is youre close to the beginning of your next budget year which starts July 1, he said. To me, jobs creation would be important. If somebody says, I can create 10 jobs, that would qualify them for a larger grant than somebody who doesnt create jobs. If the council passes this you may want to get the chamber involved since they get inquires from new businesses. I dont see a down side. This could be a pilot program.
Sosebee thinks its a good idea.
Doing something is better than doing nothing, he said.
Grogan and the council also kicked around other ideas depending on the needs of the prospective business owner.
We should be open and see what their needs are, too, he said.
The council adjourned to closed session to discuss personnel matters.