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Former chamber building to house economic development initiative

Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 4:36 PM
Last updated Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 1:12 AM
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Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s idea for a regional collaboration project to spur economic development has its first long-term home in the former Augusta Metro Cham­ber of Commerce building in the Broad Street median.

The former chamber of commerce building downtown will house an economic collaboration program.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
The former chamber of commerce building downtown will house an economic collaboration program.

Copenhaver, who helped secure a $100,000 city budget allocation that was soon matched by a $200,000 commitment from Starbucks Coffee Co., said the move will “add life” back to the I.M. Pei-designed property and to the 600 block of Broad Street, which has mostly vacant buildings.

On Tuesday, the Augusta Com­mis­sion approved a resolution in support of leasing the building to the ARC Project for $1 a year for five years, with an option to renew for five more.

In a proposal released earlier this year, Copenhaver said the ARC Project will aid the region’s development by giving its technology, military, medical and energy sectors a combined
presence.

The resolution states that the building is currently a health hazard but that it will be renovated and used by the ARC Project “to host public gatherings and support economic development in Augusta” until its value is enhanced and the building possibly sold.

Consultant Matt Kwatinetz was a member of the team that scouted the location of Starbucks’ new soluble products plant in Augusta, and he was hired as a consultant for the ARC Project when the company made its contribution. He said the Broad Street location, while symbolic, is by
necessity only the project’s first.

Calling himself an outsider, “policy wonk” and “executor” of others’ ideas, Kwatinetz said he has met with officials regarding additional locations, including in the Laney-Walker community and Regency Mall.

“It has to be multiple locations,” he said. “The hope is for this to be the first of a
series.”

Kwatinetz, who projects that his role in the community will last up to 10 years, said he has been in conversations with various groups about Starbucks’ mission of nurturing the areas it inhabits, including helping Richmond County schools.

Commissioner Joe Jackson, one of several commissioners to have met with Kwatinetz behind the scenes on the area’s needs, said he was optimistic.

“I’m willing to put a good bit of faith into seeing what this man can do,” Jackson said.

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omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 12/21/12 - 06:27 pm
4
1
sounds like a bunch of pencil

sounds like a bunch of pencil pushing make-work. but, whatever.

can't sell the space at least use it. kudos for that "green" (common sense) initiative

countyman
19735
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countyman 12/21/12 - 11:27 pm
1
4
The article only mentioned

The article only mentioned the $100k from the city and the $200k from Starbucks.

Another $100k from the private sector was given to the facility.

I can't believe it actually took until the year 2012 to get this done. Officials at GHSU, Plant Vogtle, SRS, Fort Gordon, Starbucks, Rural Sourcing, ESi, Rockwood, etc need a place to work together and share ideas.

I continue to mention the city of Augusta ranked 2nd in high tech job growth(2006-2011) and 12th(2010-2011) in the nation.

We desperately need a place for the companies who create/attract those type of jobs to work together in.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 12/22/12 - 01:05 am
4
0
Yeah countsyman, kinda ironic

Yeah countsyman, kinda ironic this is in the old chamber of commerce building *snort*. What exactly will this do that doesn't fall under the COC? Why can't this be handled with private monies?

countyman
19735
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countyman 12/22/12 - 01:25 am
1
4
The majority of the project

The majority of the project is quote 'private monies'($300k/private sector & $100k/public sector).

COC. ''The mission of the chamber has three components including serving as the voice for business in matters of public policy and legislative affairs; working to promote the region as a partner in economic development and to provide membership programs and services to our members that will enhance their profitability, productivity and overall success.''

Collaboration center. ''In a proposal released earlier this year, Copenhaver said the ARC Project will aid the region’s development by giving its technology, military, medical and energy sectors a combined presence.''

Riverman1
82450
Points
Riverman1 12/22/12 - 08:11 am
6
1
Party Place

''In a proposal released earlier this year, Copenhaver said the ARC Project will aid the region’s development by giving its technology, military, medical and energy sectors a combined presence.''

I don't think any of those entities will maintain a presence there, but they can get together every now and then and have a great place to party.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 12/22/12 - 08:20 am
3
1
the collaboration center

the collaboration center (kinda sounds like a criminal enterprise hangout)

the project of that limited scope doesn't seem to be outside the bounds of the COC's mission statement.

Seems like a duplication of effort, but like I said yesterday

"whatever"

soapy_725
43676
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soapy_725 12/22/12 - 10:23 am
0
0
A stroke of genius......
Unpublished

The solution to empty building in the CBD. Lease them all for a $1 a year for five years each with a option for five more years. $1 per leases should bring many businesses back to the CBD. ARC government is after all, just another real estate business. Without a bottom line. Without liability. But with unlimited taxpayer revenue.

Little Lamb
45392
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Little Lamb 12/22/12 - 10:30 am
1
0
Health Hazard

I wish ace reporter Susan McCord would elaborate on what exactly makes the building a health hazard, what the city government is doing to mitigate the hazard, and how much that is costing. Is it a one-time expense or ongoing? At some point, you've got to cut your losses.

countyman
19735
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countyman 12/22/12 - 12:59 pm
1
1
It's funny how different

It's funny how different people who don't have any idea present their 'opinions' as fact lol.

There's no reason to comment any further when the private sector donates $300k into something.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 12/22/12 - 03:47 pm
0
1
Countyman, is that $300,000 a

Countyman, is that $300,000 a yearly donation to match the 100k budget allocation the city is now obliged for? if so, then well, hey looks like this investment may have paid off!

.. if not.. then.. thbpbpbp!

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