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Grant hopes to spur downtown growth
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The city of Dawsonville is looking for new ways to attract businesses to its downtown area.

The city heard, on Monday, plans to enact a resolution setting aside grant funding for economic development and new businesses.

"[County attorney Dana Miles] and I have been working on this resolution ... and he has drafted a resolution for the council to review," said Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan.

The resolution, according to Miles, is in accordance with the council's requests from the April 20 work session and this is currently a draft. While the number is currently a placeholder, the resolution would set aside $25,000 annually to pay for new, qualifying businesses' rent for a year.

"The grant program will be administered by the Downtown Development Authority. It is required by state law to only be used to fund projects," he said. "Projects are defined by state law as something that fits the DDA's guidelines. We have suggested some in the draft, but it will be up to them to come up with a definite set."

Some of the guidelines suggested in the resolution draft include job creation and businesses to help create other businesses. The businesses would also have to fill out grant documentation and written requests.

"This will be an annual grant program. If the council decided it was going great, it could be funded at a higher level, funding can be increased," Mile said. "If it is not as successful, you can choose to fund it at a different level. This would all be set annually."

The resolution also allows for the option for the program to be defunded completely if necessary.

"In essence, the city council controls the budget portion of this program and the DDA would administer the program," Mile said.

While the council was favorable to the grant program, it was decided to hold a final decision until the DDA could be further consulted.

"I think it would be in our best interest to not vote tonight and table this until we can discuss this with the DDA," said Councilwoman Angie Smith. "I think we should take a couple of weeks to reach out to their members and see if they have any changes as well."

Grogan agreed with Smith's assessment.

"I think that's wise that we do that. This is something brand new and we want to make sure that we have all of our bases covered," he said. "This is not something we are entering into lightly. We want to create something that will ... encourage businesses to come into our city, so we want to make sure we get it right."

Further discussion was tabled until the city's May 18 work session per Smith's motion and second by Councilman Jason Power. The motion carried unanimously.

In other news, the city also discussed further downtown development plans regarding power lines in the city square.

"I have recently been in talks with [Georgia Power] regarding the poles and, while it's not in the original plan to bury the lines underground, I think it's a very workable solution," Grogan said.

The discussed plan would route the power lines, which currently run through the middle of the square along Hwys. 9 and 53, down Roy Hall Street and Bill Elliott Street before reconnecting to the highways on both sides. This plan would effectively form a box around the square and hide the lines from view.

While nothing has been set in stone, Grogan did say that this method would be much more cost efficient than completely burying the lines.