Alpharetta, Progress Partners to Fine Tune Economic Development

The City Council approved spending $50,000 for help from the chamber organization before it had hired Peter Tokar as the city's Economic Development director.

Progress Partners made its six-month report to Alpharetta City Council on Monday, Aug. 13. The main message was that the economic development arm of the chamber needs to reconsider the work considered under its agreement with the city.

Councilman Chris Owens said the city's original agreement with Progress Partners was made before Peter Tokar, the city's new Economic Development director, was on board. The scope of the work may need to be refreshed, with a refocus by Progress Partners on areas that Tokar won't work on or can't cover internally. He wanted them to report back to City Council on this, even if that comes in the form of a report from Tokar.

"We need to make sure we know how to leverage each other and make economic development work in our in region," said Al Nash of Progress Partners.

Sarah LaDart of Progress Partners told City Council that more than 2,500 jobs have been created since the agreement with Alpharetta. The city agreed to pay $50,000 in two installments. The first half has been paid.

Among the accomplishments has been securing Joe Young of Peachtree Government Affairs to investigate a possible Opportunity Zone for Alpharetta based on 2010 Census data, said Nash.

"We think that is very, very important to put in our toolbox and your toolbox for economic development," Nash said.

One of Progress Partners' goals has been to get a two-year college campus in North Fulton. The first step was getting the service area changed from Lanier Tech to Gwinnett Tech. And the organization helped to make sure the state legislature put "$25 million in the budget to make sure that campus stayed in North Fulton," LaDart said.

 2012                   North Fulton        Alpharetta

Jobs Created          2,193                         662

New Sq. Ft.             277K                         52K

Investment            $31MM                    $11MM

Councilmen Jim Gilvin and Chris Owens wanted to see a breakdown of the commercial space available in Alpharetta, and not just information about new tenants.

Owens said for bragging rights alone, they'd like to know what has been accomplished. Getting that information will help the city "start to get trends for some of the more subtle reasons people come to Alpharetta," Owens said.



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