GP's Growth Plan
Growth in Fountain Inn is something our next Mayor is going to have to take the lead on. It’s the number one issue facing our community, hands down. We have become a very attractive community through the hard work of residents and business owners who have already invested their time, money, and talent in our town. So it’s no wonder that more people want to come to Fountain Inn - we’re an American small town, rooted in family values, community pride, and pure charm. We can’t close Fountain Inn, but we can protect our future and make sure we don’t lose our identity.
If we want to address growth, we need a robust plan, not one suggestion that is too little, too late. We have to focus on three things: local economic development, zoning, and infrastructure.
Local Economic Development
In June of 2017 we passed a budget that completely eliminated our economic development department and spent $25,000 per year to outsource business recruitment to a firm out of Birmingham - it was a bad idea. I even gave public comment against this decision at a May 2017 council meeting. Not surprisingly, we’ve got nothing to show for that “investment” except one too many empty storefronts, again. By making this decision, we stunted the growth that new and long-time residents all get excited about - growth in our business community. We need to bring economic development back home.
Working closely with current property owners and helping match them with entrepreneurs will be a part of my daily workload as Mayor.
I'll be sure I'm there for prospective business meetings and be an active member of our economic development team.
We need to focus on South Main Street, Highway 418, and the area between Commerce Park and Woodside Park.
We also must advocate for commercial and industrial growth in areas beyond our central business district.
This focus on commercial diversity helps increase local job opportunities and access to goods and services for our citizens, and it also helps level out our tax base so we don’t need to rely on another 300 home neighborhood to support our city services.
We need a local voice out there promoting our community to entrepreneurs, and checking in with business owners who have already bet on our city. As Mayor, I’ll bring economic development back home.
Update Zoning Laws
We need to protect our small town charm and we can do that by updating each of our zoning laws, some of which haven't been touched in decades. Changes that can be made to help us grow responsibly include:
Consider developing a "rural" zoning designation to protect our rural character.
Requiring developers to build amenities for residential neighborhoods and incentivizing the inclusion of public spaces into developments (residential and commercial).
Revising our industrial standards to ensure peace and tranquility for residents who live close by.
Creating easier opportunities for low impact retail and commercial outside of our central business district to help cut down on commute times and traffic.
Simply putting common sense into our zoning laws.
As Mayor, I'll lead the charge to revamp our zoning laws so that we can protect our future.
We can't responsibly grow, or even maintain the status quo, without addressing infrastructure. I’ve heard from numerous citizens about issues with water runoff, sewer, and plenty of road issues. Here's what we can do to keep our city ready for business.
Publish a list of prioritized local needs and work on them. Not just roads and bridges, but ditches, sidewalks, storm water drains, and more. This way the work we already do can be made known, and you can hold us accountable.
For the last few years we’ve committed a mere $40,000 to our locally-owned roads. Those funds are then matched by state and county dollars, giving us $80,000 total every year the last few years. Of course during this election year our local match is up to $75,000, but I don’t think that’s enough anyway. I want to see our annual commitment to our residents be a minimum of $100,000 each year so that, when matched, we have at least $200,000 to take care of roads in our neighborhoods, sidewalks on our streets, and can quickly respond to immediate needs.
Parking is another issue I hear from residents. And while it's great to see our downtown full on any given night - when we have the opportunity to increase parking, especially handicapped parking, we need to consider it.
We need a public plan of action for natural gas and sewer capacity with the future in mind.
City Hall needs to be ready to address growth as it approaches, and not just figure it out when it gets here.