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POSTED: September 8, 2010 10:37 a.m.
As the saying goes, “Richmond Hill is a great place to live.” We’re such a great place to live that our population has more than tripled since 1990.
Major residential growth. Fast residential growth. The problems that come with that growth: increase in public safety, infrastructure problems, and transportation issues. This growth also creates demands for increased educational and recreational facilities. Some of the city’s past elected officials touted the fact that “the only industry Richmond Hill needs is rooftops”. The problem is that rooftops without industry have a negative effect on city and county provided services.
Recently, I came upon a study that was published by Georgia Power’s economic development division that compared the costs of community services in relation to revenue collected by land use.  The study showed that for every $1 of revenue collected in the residential sector, the cost of community services expended was an average of $1.42, and on the commercial/industrial sector for every $1 in revenue collected the cost of services was an average of 66 cents.
Conclusion: The municipality makes money on the revenue collected from the community/industrial customers that will offset the cost of the services to the residential sector – i.e. tax savings to the homeowner.  
Let’s use Bryan County’s Interstate Centre as an example. This industrial park in Black Creek in only five years has located seven new industries. These industries have created over 500 jobs and added over $100,000,000 to the value of  Bryan County’s tax digest. These industries have employees that fill the surrounding restaurants every weekday for lunch and these same industries do business with vendors from Pembroke, Black Creek, Ellabell and Blitchton, thus adding to Bryan County’s sales tax collections.
We’re in difficult economic times right now, but fortunately we have before us an opportunity to promote economic development within the city of Richmond Hill. This economic development will ultimately result in easing the tax burden on the homeowner.
Recently, Terrapointe has approached the city of Richmond Hill for annexation of a 900-acre industrial site off of Belfast Siding road. This land, when annexed, would immediately generate property tax revenue for the city. This site is rail served (only two within 20 miles of the port), which is highly desired by business and industry.
This site with its close proximity to I-95, I-16 and the Port of Savannah has already generated much interest on a statewide, national, and international basis. We have already had one manufacturer (a well-know international company) look at the site and it was tops on their list to locate a new state of the art manufacturing facility.
Unfortunately, since the infrastructure was not in place, we were eliminated and the 425 jobs were lost to a city (similar to Richmond Hill) in Alabama. On a historical note, the last time a major manufacturer located in Richmond Hill was more than 25 years ago and that was Hobart. I find that very odd as our neighboring cities of Hinesville, Midway, Pooler and Rincon have landed many manufacturing and commercial clients within that same time frame. 
Terrapointe has agreed to pay for all infrastructure to be extended to the site and they have also agreed to donate land for a new city fire station when needed. Terrapointe is stepping up to the plate to help Richmond Hill expand with planned industrial growth. This economic development will ultimately diversify the city’s tax base and will create much needed jobs.  Also, Atlanta Gas Light is in the process of installing a new gas line to the site that will add at least $1 million of tax base to the city coffers. This project was one of only two sites chosen in the entire state of Georgia for expansion by AGL. AGL and the Georgia Public Service Commission realize the great opportunity and benefits that this site will produce. 
Richmond Hill needs to attract not only more industrial, commercial and retail businesses to our city.  Office, retail and industrial land uses have the ability to generate positive fiscal benefits. These businesses create jobs, generate tax revenue and keep funds circulating within our city limits many times over. The homeowner (taxpayer) will be the beneficiary of economic development coming to the city of Richmond Hill
If the city of Richmond Hill does not have the conviction to work with a world class company such as TerraPointe to produce jobs and revenue for our community, then it is time that we find elected or hired officials who do not have personal or influenced agendas that keep our city from moving forward.
In closing, this first-class development will be the most positive, economic, recession resistant, generator that has happened to the city of Richmond Hill in the past 20 plus years. This development will produce jobs for our citizens and simultaneously generate revenue for our city, county and school system.  Whether it’s our country, the state of Georgia,  Bryan County or the city of Richmond Hill – we now more than ever need this type of economic stimulus, revenue generation and jobs. 

Register is a Richmond Hill business owner and occasional columnist for The News.
 

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