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Stockbridge mayor talks economic opportunities
by Christine Fonville
August 29, 2013 09:54 AM | 2141 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
High-speed Internet for the city, the Main Street Program and the formation of the Stockbridge Business Association were a few of the dozen items on the docket during last week’s Breakfast with the Mayor event.

Allen Davis, a representative for fiber optic company Coastal Asset Management, based in Los Angeles, Calif., discussed updates on a community broadband Internet network for the city.

The $15 million project will provide advanced broadband services to governments, schools, and businesses in and around the city.

“We continue to be extremely encouraged by the reception we’re receiving in this community,” Davis said.

So far, the company estimates it will install its broadband services in about 2,622 buildings around the city.

Davis said the equipment being used for this project, “has the most capacity of any comparable equipment that’s available in the industry at this time.”

Mayor Mark Alarcon said the international opportunities for the city were what impressed him the most about the broadband project.

“This isn’t just talk; international businesses will pay attention to and connect with Stockbridge thanks to this project,” he said.

Continuing the topic of economic development, Community and Economic Development Officer B.J. Mathis presented details to initiate Stockbridge into the Main Street Program.

The program, run by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, gives assistance to cities who qualify for the program by helping with marketing, training, designing and fundraising in order to make the city’s Main Street district more appealing to businesses and residents.

Mathis said, “[It] creates excitement downtown and encourages customer traffic by helping with special events and image-development campaigns.”

McDonough, Locust Grove and Hampton have already been accepted into the program.

“Getting accreditation is a two-year project and Stockbridge has just applied to be accepted into the program,” Mathis said.

City officials will know in November if the city was selected.

Residents and business owners in Stockbridge have also started up a business association for the city.

“This is a way for the city to hear and value business owners’ opinions,” Tarji Dunn, who is heading the association, said.

She encouraged “strong business leaders” in the community to join the association while it is still in its “start-up phase.”

“It is very important that business owners come together and be involved in all of the new and exciting happenings in Stockbridge,” Dunn said.

The association is meeting every other Wednesday at city hall in Stockbridge.

Alarcon also honored Henry County’s police, fire and emergency agencies at the breakfast with an award and $1,000 check for each department.

In a question-and-answer session after the presentation, some Stockbridge residents spoke up against the city’s re-establishment of its own law enforcement department separate from the county.

Tom Gordon, a 20-year resident, asked how the city’s future police department could surpass what he viewed as the high level of quality already delivered by the county’s law enforcement departments.

Alarcon replied the city can use “more technologically advanced vehicles and facilities.”

Breakfast with the Mayor is a quarterly event held at the Merle Manders Conference Center.

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