At last week’s event, residents and county officials spoke with two panels of business and community leaders. It also was a forum to give reasonable ideas of how to provide economic growth in the county.
“Our goal tonight was to generate good dialogue about the future of the county,” DeKalb chamber President and CEO Leonardo McClarty said. “As our county CEO has touched on, we are one county, so our goal tonight was how do we move the county forward and as well, how do we garnish some of these opportunities for success.”
The most popular discussion of the night dealt with Community Improvement Districts. Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May said he would like areas such as south DeKalb to look into a mega improvement district instead of each area having its own. He said he believed this will allow them to be more competitive since the smaller areas would not be competing against each other.
Along with improvement districts, the county is planning to create opportunity zones. These zones would be an economic tool to attract urban development to the area.
Vice President of Community and Economic Development for Georgia Power Pedro Cherry said leadership is important to any community – strong, diverse leadership is key and coming to the county. He said the county needs to look for leadership in all areas and not just in government, but in the private sector such as nonprofits.
“You must have a strategy and vision,” Cherry said. “Leadership helps develop strategy and vision, but you need the entire community involved for growth in this community.”
Besides improvement districts and the importance of good leadership, small businesses were a crucial discussion topic. Director of Entrepreneur and Small Business Development for the Georgia Department of Economic Development Mary Ellen McClanahan said the county and state need to change the picture of small businesses since 99 percent of businesses in Georgia are considered small.
She said a small business can have up to 300 employees. McClanahan also encouraged any resident of the county to attend the DeKalb County Small Business Summit to learn more about the opportunities in the county.
The summit is an effort to educate citizens and help small businesses in the county and will be Aug. 22, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Information: To learn more about the summit, visit www.dekalbsummit2013.eventbrite.com or contact Michelle J. Menifee, (404) 687-2730 or firstname.lastname@example.org.