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- We are fortunate to have a strong foundation for Athens’ economy in our education, health care, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, tourism, and arts sectors. With development of incubator spaces and strategic efforts, we can widen the local economic pie to include additional research and design, technology and creative jobs. In addition to attracting new businesses from outside of Athens, this should include a strong push for entrepreneurship and small business development. If we set the stage for every three person business in town to hire two more employees, and every 50 person business in town could gain ten more employees, thousands of new positions would open.
- Our economic development efforts should be well-defined, and include the opportunity for those on every rung of the ladder to climb upward. Thousands of eager college students, and hundreds of vibrant teens graduate from college and high school in Athens every year, and should be engaged to form new businesses that will retain investment and spending in the local economy. There are existing resources, such as the UGA Small Business Development Center, with which partnerships can be forged to get emerging companies onto solid ground, and make impacts that will be felt for generations ahead.
- Investing in infrastructure throughout the community will serve as a magnet for additional employment – – much as firms such as Caterpillar and VoxPro have indicated that they were drawn to Athens for the quality of life. Critical infrastructure includes everything from well-maintained roads and enjoyable parks to fiber data lines, and long-term prospects like commuter rail access to Atlanta.
- Similarly, areas well-supported with walkable streets and parks will yield residential development on the thousands of lots already zoned for this purpose. We should “super-charge” neighborhoods with amenities to ensure they become more attractive to homebuyers.