Development Authority to expand global reach

The Development Authority of Richmond County is thinking global for 2011.


The group plans to travel to Germany next year and translate its Web site into other languages, including German, possibly French and a dialect from China.

"We are going to be more aggressive internationally," said Walter Sprouse, the executive director for the authority.

"When we look at visits to our Web site, the No. 1 country for hits is China and No. 2 is Germany and No. 3 is the U.S."

The development authority, which helps recruit companies to Augusta, increased its budget by about 22 percent for next year to $645,250, mainly because of upgrades to its Web site and more money in its recruitment fund for the trip abroad.

The Web site improvements also will include adding more data and better search functions, Sprouse said.

"We're going to focus really hard in the coming year on companies in Europe, primarily because I think we're very attractive since we're East Coast," he said.

The budget approved last week by the development authority's board of directors calls for a $35,000 Web page support budget, up from $3,250 last year. That will help the group hire a company to add more local data for each of its potential sites.

"We want to make sure that we're one (of the communities) that's doing this, so other communities say, 'Geez. I wish we had the kind of data Augusta does," Sprouse said.

The authority's recruitment budget will increase to $50,000 from $27,000.

The marketing budget also is increasing from $28,000 to $45,000 next year.

"This is aggressive. There are a lot of economic development organizations that are cutting their budgets," Sprouse said.

The development authority is not technically a part of county government, but it does receive about 10 percent of its budget -- or $63,000 a year -- from the county. That amount didn't change for 2011.

Most of the authority's budget is funded by fees from industrial revenue bonds.