David Austin said the county is seeing “clear signs” of growth, including unemployment returning to pre-recession levels and a rise in tax revenues that could allow the county to restore some staffing cuts.
“No one knows how 2014 will end, but we are beginning 2014 with growth,” he told the crowd at the Paulding Senior Center.
Austin, who spoke as part of the Paulding Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Georgia Power luncheon, told of county road projects including the recently-completed Seven Hills Connector road in northeastern Paulding. Other projects include the planned widening of Bill Carruth Parkway from the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks to Hiram-Douglasville Highway; and the long-awaited East Hiram Parkway extending Bill Carruth Parkway to the Cobb County line and opening by the end of this month.
The chairman also summarized recent successes in economic development efforts.
WellStar Paulding’s $155 million replacement hospital is expected to open in April and eventually provide 500 new medical jobs, Austin said.
Swiss conveyor system producer Interroll recently opened its only North American manufacturing and showroom facility in Paulding Commerce Park; and Italian packaging firm Ronchi located in Sunny Industrial Park, both in Hiram, he said. However, the county is still awaiting word from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow it to begin construction of the Richland Creek Reservoir to serve much of the county’s future drinking water needs.
The reservoir, when completed, will fill an area in north Paulding with water from Richland Creek and the Etowah River. County officials have planned the reservoir since 1999 to give it a water source in addition to the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority.
Work also has been delayed on a runway extension and taxiway expansion at the former Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport, now called Silver Comet Field.
County residents filed a series of legal actions in reaction to a private company’s efforts to attract a passenger airline service provider as part of its plan to develop the area for aerospace companies.
Austin repeated his assertion Delta Airlines was backing efforts to halt the airport’s expansion because it feared competition.
The airport’s expansion and development will benefit all county residents in the long run, Austin said.
“You have to know, by the grace of God, I have the resolve to see this through,” he said.