Vice-Chair Tarenia Carthan & Chris Pumphrey Highlight Bright Economic Future at 2023 State of Douglas
On Wednesday, April 19, 2023, the Council for Quality Growth, the Douglas County Chamber, and Douglas County hosted the 2023 State of Douglas County Address over lunch at the Douglasville Conference Center. A packed house of more than 200 Council and Chamber members, elected officials, businesses, residents, county staff, and partners of Douglas County attended to hear annual remarks from county leadership. This year, attendees heard from County Commission Vice-Chair Tarenia Carthan and President of the Elevate Douglas Economic Partnership, Chris Pumphrey. The 2023 State of Douglas was presented by Atlas.
Vice-Chair Cathan reflected on the county’s achievements including great investments made into residents and their communities. She highlighted efforts to fund youth initiatives, assist senior citizens, ensure food security, fight homelessness, and provide housing solutions. “Although we face challenges with rising interest rates, fluctuating gas prices, and housing price growth,” Carthan said, “we are working diligently to find solutions to ensure that working-class citizens and seniors can afford housing without compromising their basic needs.” One example includes a $500,000 investment into an apartment complex for homeless veterans, Veterans Village.
The Vice-Chair commended the county’s strong partnerships with state and federal agencies that support a variety of projects including a new Driver Services building, road extensions, and a new community business incubator, all of which are efforts to maximize resources for the people of Douglas County.
She discussed the implementation efforts of Douglas Forward 2025, the county’s five-year strategic plan. A survey taken counted public safety as citizens’ top priority, prompting a budget reallocation of $49 million, or 40%, towards strengthening public safety service and infrastructure. The success of the 2016 SPLOST and recent passing of a new 2022 SPLOST has also been instrumental in efforts to improve public safety, transportation, parks, and county facilities.
Chris Pumphrey, President of the Elevate Douglas Economic Partnership, joined her on stage to talk about the evolution of Douglas County and highlight recent economic success and some upcoming projects. Elevate Douglas is a public-private partnership organized in 2021 to bridge the economic development arms of Douglas County and the City of Douglasville and attract transformative investments in the community. Recently, the county received a $200 million investment from Lionsgate Film Studio to anchor the large mixed-use project “The Trails.” Pumphrey is hopeful that this new kind of development will provide some momentum for their ongoing efforts to attract higher scale investments in the community.
The county’s diverse economic landscape also includes a major data center development by Microsoft and a blood processing facility by the American Red Cross. “We had to create the opportunity and lay the infrastructure,” Pumphrey said. The county is working to develop technology and industrial corridors as well as adding sewer infrastructure and leaning into more P3 projects. Pumphrey, along with the county’s elected leadership, is working diligently to “find the right mix of high-quality development and balance it with the things the community values most.”
Douglas county boasts an impressive 3% unemployment rate and the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs in the last year alone. “We will not be content,” the Vice-Chair concluded, “until we achieve our vision of diverse, vibrant, and sustainable community that sets the standards nationally for public service.”
The Council for Quality Growth’s State of Douglas County annually convenes the county’s business community with its local government bodies, as well as with other local leaders from across the region. “Douglas County continues to make the right investments to attract high-quality development here,” said Michael Paris, President & CEO of the Council, “and the Council is proud to partner with the county and its leadership to ensure local policy supports this growth.”
The State of Douglas also featured remarks from Sara Ray, President & CEO of the Douglas County Chamber, Yvette Jones, Chief Communications Officer for Douglas County, and Danny Johnson, Manager of the ARC’s Metro North Georgia Water Planning District.