The sun is shining bright on Hawkinsville!
Things are looking GOOD in Hawkinsville. A new day is dawning. For many years we at the city have been working to improve our tax base, our quality of life, and our economic outlook. We are now seeing the fruits of those efforts. I’d like to spend a little time with you highlighting some of the results….. Here is my TOP TEN items that I am excited about with our little town!
- H&V: Hollingsworth and Vose has announced a MAJOR expansion. They are investing MILLIONS dollars on a new building along with new equipment (AND LOTS OF NEW EMPLOYEES). The city worked on this project for about 2 years. Many late night discussions and even a trip to Boston. It ultimately came down to between us and a Northwestern US city. The city and state stepped up to the plate with a $1.5 MILLION dollar cash incentive ($1 Million city, Half a million state). The county and school board stepped up to the plate with a 10 year declining tax abatement on the new project. These incentives were enough to tip the scale in Hawkinsville’s favor. And we got it. $1 Million is ALOT for a small town like Hawkinsville. But supporting one of our largest private industries and largest employers was important. Also H&V is single handily our LARGEST natural gas buyer from the city. And the expansion will VASTLY increase the amount of gas that they purchase from us. We are paying for this incentive through the increased gas sales and utilizing the money that we WERE paying toward our spec building (The spec building was paid off this summer), and using the increased city property tax payments from H&V (the city did not offer a tax abatement on this project). This expansion is a HUGE WIN for our small community and proves that when we all work together, we can accomplish great things.
- Cherokee Brick: WE SOLD OUR SPEC BUILDING. Cherokee brick is a great company located in Macon, Georgia. They are a huge company. But at their current location in Macon, they really have no room to expand. Hawkinsville native Michael Peavy is the president of Cherokee Brick. We went to Macon. Cherokee leadership came here. Ultimately they decided to expand in Hawkinsville. Brickyard Solutions will be the name of their Hawkinsville facility. They purchased our Spec building on Highway 247 for a cash purchase. This puts the building on the tax rolls. This facility will eventually create some 40-70 jobs. This gives us some money to put toward additional economic development. Brickyard solutions will purchase utilities, including natural gas, from the city as well as pay property taxes. But the main benefit is JOBS! I have been saying since first getting on city council that our primary need is JOBS! They hope to begin production as early as January!
- TAYLOR VILLAGE: Our old Hospital is falling down. It’s dilapidated. It’s an eyesore. It’s sad to drive by and see a facility that so many of us Hawkinsville Natives were born in, cared for in, and many even died there. Its a local landmark. But it is falling down. Previous efforts, from both local groups and outside groups have failed. It seemed to be a lost cause. TBG Residential from Atlanta saw the potential. We worked with TBG on grant issues, zoning issues, parking issues – everything. We eventually came up with a plan utilizing both low income housing tax credits and historic tax credits. And just last week, DCA (Ga Department of Community Affairs) approved the plan and will issue the tax credits. The total project will be an 11.2 MILLION DOLLAR investment into Hawkinsville. There will be a total of 68 units in the Taylor Village development consisting of a mix of unit choices and styles for residents. The historic former hospital will be converted into 34 units which will be a mix of 24 one bedroom units and 10 two bedroom units. Across Warren street, they will build 4 additional buildings that will house 34 additional units of two and three bedroom units. Both portions of the development will be designed to be energy efficient and sustainable with the long-term operation and maintenance of the community in mind. The development will include a clubhouse with community space, a laundry center, and a computer area. There will be an outdoor playground with a covered pavilion. They hope to close all of the funding rounds by April of 2017, construction will last a little over a year. They hope to start leasing units by July of 2018. 11.2 MILLION investment. That’s what I’m talking about!
- DOWNTOWN: Our Hawkinsville DDA (Downtown Development Authority) has been very busy of late. The city (through the DDA) has funded 25 facade grants totaling a $55,000.00 investment into our downtown. These facade grants are restoring the look of our downtown. It’s looking better than it has looked in DECADES! Just ride through and take a look. MANY MORE are coming in 2017!
- CABERO PARK: Speaking of downtown, take a gander at our new and improved CABERO PARK. A total renovation thanks to our Master Gardner Program!
- AIRPORT: We are looking at ways to improve / expand our airport. If we want to be serious about economic development, we need a way for the potential investors to come into our community. Often they prefer to fly from city to city. It is not a great first impression if they must land in Perry and then drive here. So, we are in the process of acquiring the land needed to expand our runway to some 5,000 feet. This not only will accommodate most planes, but will also qualify us for FEDERAL aviation dollars to help maintain the airport.
- INDUSTRIAL PARK: Now that we have sold the spec building, we continue to look for ways to highlight our industrial park. We are not ready to invest in another spec building, but we are contemplating having two or three PAD READY spots available. These are locations within our park that are already graded and have utility infrastructure placed and ready. We hope to have a 10,000 sf pad, a 50,000 sf pad, and possibly a 100,000 sf pad ready for potential developments. We want to be PROACTIVE!
- BRIDGES: Although it is going to be a major aggravation for a couple of years, our bridges are finally being replaced! They were almost getting to the point of being DANGEROUS! I love our bridges and I love the fact that the river crossing is RIGHT AT OUR DOWNTOWN. Many towns are being BYPASSED, but due to the location of our bridges, Hawkinsville should never be bypassed.
- City Hall: Our current city hall is too small and really showing it’s age. We have put money in the previous SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) and our upcoming SPLOST to help us pay for a new City Hall. This will not only give us the room that we need but will also provide additional space for our Chamber and Economic Development Efforts. We hope to have new announcements coming soon in this area.
- UTILITY SOFTWARE: FOR YEARS, I have been wanting a system that will allow CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS (for a reasonable rate) and ACH Payments and Automatic Drafts. We want to make it easier for our customers to pay their utility bills. New software is going online this year that will accomplish these goals.