“It’s really the relationship business,” he said. “The success really depends on the relationships that we can establish and cultivate.”
O’Connor has been focused on forging connections between the city and community members, leaders, organizations and other business stakeholders.
Within his first few months on the job, he has reached out to the Milton Business Alliance, the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, the North Fulton Community Improvement District, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Power and Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, among other groups and individuals.
Going forward, O’Connor wants to establish an inventory of available commercial space in the city, an analysis of the retail market, and a program focused on the retention and expansion of Milton businesses.
Only about 15 percent of the city’s tax base comes from the commercial sector, he said.
“We want to make sure it at least stays there and maybe shifts towards the commercial tax base,” he explained.
Two areas he highlighted as prime locations for future economic development opportunities are the Crabapple district and the Deerfield Parkway corridor.
“I think we’ve got maybe 2 percent of our land area dedicated to commercial, and we want to maximize the commercial development that takes place in that 2 percent,” O’Connor said.
He added, “I think the council’s vision for the community is … we’re wide open [with] lots of green space, horse farms [and] beautiful residential neighborhoods. We want to keep it that way and not have commercial spread all over the city.”
Efficient planning and recruiting can concentrate development in targeted areas while increasing Milton’s tax revenue from commercial businesses, he said.