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Copenhaver optimistic about Augusta's direction in State of City address

Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 7:50 PM
Last updated Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 11:53 AM
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In his annual State of the City address, Mayor Deke Copenhaver said he’s excited about the future he sees for Augusta.

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Augusta Exchange Club President Tat Thompson (left) and President-elect Charlie Anderson (right) listen as Mayor Deke Copenhaver delivers his State of the City address at the Augusta Exchange Club.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Augusta Exchange Club President Tat Thompson (left) and President-elect Charlie Anderson (right) listen as Mayor Deke Copenhaver delivers his State of the City address at the Augusta Exchange Club.

“Our city is moving forward,” he said during his speech Thursday to the Augusta Exchange Club at First Baptist Church of Augusta.

Last year Augusta experienced major economic development, he said.

Augusta’s international renown as home of the Masters Tournament, James Brown and Jessye Norman, and a strong arts and cultural community tipped the scales for Starbucks to build its $172 million production facility here, Copenhaver said. The plant is expected to create 140 new jobs.

The mayor also said Augusta is becoming a hub for bringing jobs back to America from overseas and is an example for other metropolitan areas. He named Rural Sourcing Inc., and Automatic Data Processing as other major companies that have moved jobs back to Augusta from overseas in the past few years.

“That is not going unnoticed at a national level,” he said.

Copenhaver plans to speak in Phoenix next week about bringing jobs back.

“What we have going on in the local economy is amazing,” he said.

The expansion of Plant Vogtle, the new National Security Agency presence at Fort Gordon and the merger of Georgia Health Sciences and Augusta State universities were part of what drew an international company like Starbucks to the area, he said.

The city was named second in the nation for road and technology jobs in the past five years, and Digital Journal named it the fourth-best city to live in based on quality of life and cost of living, Copenhaver said. That’s in addition to Augusta recently being awarded the HUD Secretary’s Opportunity and Empowerment Award for efforts in the Laney Walker/Bethlehem district, he said.

But he also said the city has issues.

“We’ve got a 22 percent poverty rate that I want to see us do something about,” Copenhaver said, adding that he hopes the new Georgia Regents University will be able to offer more medical outreach in disadvantaged areas.

In his speech, Copenhaver noted that Sheriff Richard Roundtree is doing new things to address crime, but that he has big shoes to fill, following longtime sheriff Ronnie Strength.

He also said he would like to use the North Augusta City Council’s approval of Project Jackson as an example for the Augusta Commission to stop waiting so long to act. He expressed support for the project, which includes a baseball stadium for the Augusta GreenJackets that team owners had wanted in Augusta for years. Copenhaver said the stadium, despite being across the river, will benefit downtown Augusta and will play well off of a performing arts venue that is currently being discussed.

“Even with the difficulties we’ve got, anytime I go anywhere in the state of Georgia, people are talking about Augusta,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned I serve a great city.”

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countyman
21626
Points
countyman 02/07/13 - 10:03 pm
2
5
2013=Transformation

Lower crime rate than the majority of peers, growing population, new industrial buildings, attracting high tech jobs, large commercial developments, brand new comprehensive research university, road/interstate expansion, and urban revitalization. The public should be allowed to hear both the positive and negative. I continue to post on here because too many times people only get to read the negative.

Augusta could start to attract the larger private investments(Rockwood, Starbucks, ADP) more often if the public transportation system improved. ADP, Starbucks, etc have all express the need for additional transit.

I personally feel the PAC, students dorms, and GRU facilities is the better option. I did support the mixed-use development at first, but high paying jobs in the CBD easily puts the city ahead of several peer cities. The high paying jobs, additional residents/employees, and the activities related to the performing arts center are going to bring in the new restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, residential developments, etc.

countyman
21626
Points
countyman 02/07/13 - 10:03 pm
3
4
The momentum is clearly behind Augusta

My 5 priorities for 2013.
1. Regency Mall(build a mega sports complex, and finally begin construction on the lake with the approved Splost funds).
2. East Augusta(Continuing helping the SRK to bring riverfront activities to Augusta. Demolished Marion Homes, and develop a plan to extend the riverwalk into East Augusta by 2015.
3. Public transportation(additional routes, new designs, running 24 hr(can start with 1-2am) electric buses, sell the bus transfer station on Broad street to GRU/private investor(it's right next to the 25 acre development) and build a transfer station in the CBD/police precinct(the main bus depot is underway in South Augusta).
4. Community policing(additional foot/bike patrol, three small precincts(upgraded Harrisburg location, CBD, and Medical District/Laney Walker), cameras in the urban core & main suburban roads(Gordon Hwy, Wrightsboro, Peach Orchard, Wheeler, Washington, Deans Bridge, Riverwatch, Windsor Spring, Tobacco, and Hwy 56).
5. Commercial developments in South Augusta(Target, Sams, Publix, movie theater, chain restaurants, offer additional incentives, and even construct city related buildings, green space, etc near the property to create a urban village theme(pedestrian friendly) instead of the usual big box development.

crkgrdn
2287
Points
crkgrdn 02/07/13 - 10:13 pm
6
4
All Government Backed

And, where were you Mr. Mayor when GRU became. Mr. Mayor why don't you just give it up to the toad and call our city GRU City? What a weasel!

countyman
21626
Points
countyman 02/07/13 - 10:53 pm
3
5
Just asking?

The current mayor received over 60% of the vote in two straight elections. What exactly does all government backed mean? The only all government backed projects are the NSA and Plant Vogtle. The Medical Commons building is partially government funds. I'm positive several other new construction projects related to GRU have to rely on student fees/private sector. The overwhelmingly majority of new construction is definitely private investment(Starbucks $172 million, Rockwood $115 million, Home 2 Suites by Hilton, Medac expansion of 70 jobs, Holiday Inn Express, upcoming construction at Village at Riverwatch, Harrington Park skilled nursing facility, 25 acre development on 15th street, Walmart on Wrightsboro rd, upscale apartments near Carmax, etc).

People don't realize Southwest Augusta has a proposed 25 acre shopping center/10k sq. ft Shoppes at Dyess Park on Jimmie Dyess near Zaxbys, and the 13 acre shopping center on Gordon Hwy near near Grovetown. To go along with the upcoming construction at the Village at Riverwatch, Carmax area, and 44 acre development at Walton Way Extension/I-20 in West Augusta.

The performing arts center will attract tons of private money. The $100 million arts campaign is a reality, and people already know what Augusta can accomplish(raised over $20 million for the Kroc Center).

dichotomy
37391
Points
dichotomy 02/08/13 - 12:26 am
8
2
Whoaa.......countyman finally

Whoaa.......countyman finally mentioned South Augusta...not that I believe ANY of it is going to happen in my lifetime but at least we finally got on the bottom of his list. 17 years of decay, closed businesses, and mailing my taxes downtown and now I'm supposed to close my eyes and see restaurants, move theaters, and a Publix. I don't believe any of it countyman but thanks for patting us on the head. We would love for you to be right but I'm sure you understand why our confidence is low. After 2 years our clowns still can't handle the golf course so we don't hold much hope for them turning around a third of the geographic area of the county. Now if you said that we might be getting the Williams Drag Strip I might believe you.

countyman
21626
Points
countyman 02/08/13 - 01:40 am
2
4
The truth will set you free!

At least you've given up on telling me how safe the area is near where I live in the early morning hours. It's funny because I've never heard from you(or the usual posters) how parts of Evans, Martinez, Aiken, or even North Augusta are dangerous because of one shooting(which didn't even sound random). I know it's not totally your fault, because you watch the news/read the paper(rarely covers the crime outside of Richmond County). But I've actually lived in Columbia County before, and you can't fool me. I guess me and the thousands of other people coming home in the wee hours, and nothing happening doesn't count. Ronnie Strength releasing the crime stats last year don't mean anything according to some people on here.

How do you explain this? If the 200 block of 11th street is dangerous in the wee hours. Then what's the wee hour situation like in either North Augusta or Martinez.

Martinez $232,154
Central Business District $203,173
North Augusta $196,168

Actually I mentioned South Augusta(Regency Mall) at the top of my list. Let's be honest only the older portion of South Augusta(mainly inside I-520) fell on hard times over the last few years. There's nothing remotely close to years of decay along Willis Foreman, Diamond Lakes, Goshen, Brown rd, etc in South Augusta.

The $172 million Starbucks, $115 million Rockwood, Five Guys, Hampton Inn hotel, etc are some of the private investments in South Augusta. All of the Bi Lo grocery stores in the area(Tobacco rd, Gordon Hwy, Peach Orchard) were renovated since 2012. I'm positive after the I-520 construction ends, or maybe even sooner. You'll see the larger commercial developments start to pop up.

Riverman1
93348
Points
Riverman1 02/08/13 - 03:54 am
11
2
Huh???

Copenhaver said, "The merger of Georgia Health Sciences and Augusta State universities were part of what drew an international company like Starbucks to the area."

Huh???

Riverman1
93348
Points
Riverman1 02/08/13 - 03:59 am
2
4
High Poverty Rate

“We’ve got a 22 percent poverty rate that I want to see us do something about,” Copenhaver said, adding that he hopes the new Georgia Regents University will be able to offer more medical outreach in disadvantaged areas."

There's nothing wrong with a high poverty rate when it comes to attracting new industry. It gives the new industry a population to draw workers from.

justthefacts
24951
Points
justthefacts 02/08/13 - 05:29 am
5
1
That Depends

River, that depends on if the unemployed are worthy of employment. Lowes, as an example, is building outside of their NC headquarters because they can't find enough "employable" folks and there are lots of unemployed in NC.

seenitB4
97062
Points
seenitB4 02/08/13 - 06:43 am
6
3
The truth shall set us free

Now...where did ctyman hear that on here...hahah

You can't handle the truth ...a much quoted line of Jack Nicholsons......ooh I love that actor....when I hear that people are talking about Augusta...I think where are they.....I don't hear that in these parts...the only thing I hear is something about the Masters....golf---golf & more golf talk....& these guys are good ole boys...

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 02/08/13 - 07:54 am
6
2
Uh the truth will set you free...

I have always said there are dangerous places in AIken, NA and Martinez. The difference being they are centralized in one area not spread out over the entire Metro like in Augusta.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 02/08/13 - 08:26 am
7
2
What's on East Boundary that

What's on East Boundary that you want to attract to Riverwalk?
If there could be a dose of reality along with the progress report, credibility ratings would improve.

soapy_725
44107
Points
soapy_725 02/08/13 - 08:44 am
0
0
Why is Deke preaching government in the church
Unpublished

sanctuary. My Father's House is a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves. He is posed like the POPE. Love the angelic pose. Fake. Fake. Fake. Send him on to Washington DC where he belongs. Destiny awaits the Dekester.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 02/08/13 - 09:13 am
6
2
The Mayor said...

“What we have going on in the local economy is amazing,”

'Amazing' is the right word alright...amazing we have some of the highest unemployment in the State and Georgia is high on the list nationwide yet the Mayor will be touting that outside Augusta and taken seriously as "a path forward" for other communities.

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 02/08/13 - 10:11 am
3
2
Wonder why he didn't mention....

The Gay Pride Parade...that has to move the city forward (sarcasm now off)

countyman
21626
Points
countyman 02/08/13 - 11:27 am
1
4
The truth will set you free!

Riverman... The $76 million Medical Commons is under construction, and the $100 million Cancer Center begins this year. Augusta will become home to the 2nd NCI cancer center(Emory) in the state. Not to mention the future construction at the GGHF site in the CBD, and the Summerville campus. The corporate at Starbucks realizes Augusta is going to attract some of the best and brightest.

Willow.... The Starbucks plant, Rockwood, etc are all under construction. Augusta was just name the 4th best city to live, and 2nd in terms of high tech job growth.. What comment does not equal reality? I know you may disagree, but it doesn't change the facts. Due to the number of personal messages I received I have more than enough credibility. When did East Augusta only become East Boundary? A large industrial development is coming to East Augusta on Sand Bar Ferry. The initial phase of the $30 million Walton Oaks development is already open. The Savannah River Keeper new headquarters are headed to East Augusta(14 acre development), and they want to further develop the area. There's plenty of riverfront land(Marion Homes included) that can be turned into recreation, and residential maybe.

countyman
21626
Points
countyman 02/08/13 - 11:31 am
1
2
The truth will set you free!

Brad.... The city of Augusta ranked 2nd in the nation for high tech job growth between 2006-2011. I'm sure people would like to hear how the city managed to do that. Boise, Idaho is the only city to beat Augusta in the ranking. Augusta outpaced cities like Austin, Seattle, Madison, San Francisco, Boston, etc

How many counties with less than 250k people have two plants over $100 million under construction right now? The Starbucks won the 2012 'GA deal of the year'. Augusta seems to be right in the middle of the pack, and several jobs have even been created yet. I don't know why you can't be optimistic, and deal with the current issues at hand.

Georgia MSA
1. Athens 6.6%
Gainesville 6.9%
Warner Robins 7.4%
Savannah 8.2%
Atlanta 8.4
Valdosta 8.5%
Hinesville-Fort Stewart 8.9%
Columbus 9%
Augusta 9%
Macon 9.2%
Albany 9.7%
Rome 9.8%
Brunswick 9.8%
Dalton 11.3%

GnipGnop... I'm positive the gay parade/festival makes people and companies look at Augusta different.

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 02/08/13 - 11:33 am
5
1
Oh I agree with you...

I am positive a lot of people look at Augusta differently!!

Darby
29196
Points
Darby 02/08/13 - 12:20 pm
3
1
The mayor knows how to talk the talk....

walking the walk is not on his agenda.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 02/08/13 - 01:25 pm
1
0
I'm optimistic, but like

I'm optimistic, but like many, guarded. Too much power and money belongs to too few around here. Adding big manufacturing plants is fine. It adds blue-collar jobs and maybe even a few dandies. But if we are to improve opportunity and get folks to stay after they finish school/military, the few families that own the majority of Augusta need to relax their grip and stop strangling it. That's just as major as bringing in new companies and medical facilities.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 02/08/13 - 02:09 pm
3
1
countyman,

Like I said, we have higher unemployment than most any other place in Georgia, and Georgia is among the highest in the nation which means we are one of the worst places to find a job.

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 02/08/13 - 02:25 pm
1
1
When the power shifts...

to the control of the black commissioners and you have a black mayor, I wonder how welcome the gay pride parade will be?

dichotomy
37391
Points
dichotomy 02/08/13 - 05:50 pm
2
0
Just remember....all the good

Just remember....all the good stuff countyman is talking about happened under the last commission. If those people are watching the commission meetings since Williams is back they may cancel out on us just like the golf course folks.

countyman
21626
Points
countyman 02/08/13 - 06:49 pm
1
2
The truth will set you free!

Brad...... Gainesville(Atlanta), Warner Robins(Macon), and Hinesville-Fort Stewart(Savannah) help make up the CSA of three cities.

The only true metros with a lower rate than Augusta were Athens, Savannah, Atlanta, and Valdosta..

I still didn't hear the name of the counties(less than 250k) who had two plants over $100 million underway right now.

Augusta ranked 2nd in the nation in terms of high tech job growth. The leaders of cities want to learn how Augusta pulled it off. How can you spin Augusta ranking ahead of Austin, Raleigh, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Madison, Atlanta, Dallas, etc.

Augusta even beat out San Jose(silicon valley), and you can guys can't spin the good news.

Dichotomy... Marion Williams was on the commission when ADP decided to open their $40 million facility in West Augusta(1000 jobs).

Gage Creed
19385
Points
Gage Creed 02/08/13 - 08:12 pm
0
0
Burke County...Plant Vogtle

Burke County...Plant Vogtle 14 billion dollar expansion, Chatham County 652 Million dollar Harbor Project along with Gulfstream Expansion, Mitusbishi Power Systems, shall I continue?

Gage Creed
19385
Points
Gage Creed 02/08/13 - 08:36 pm
0
0
Green County Ga population of

Green County Ga population of less than 17K.....40 Million dollar hospital construction...

countyman
21626
Points
countyman 02/08/13 - 10:26 pm
0
1
Plant Vogtle and the Harbor

Plant Vogtle and the Harbor expansion are both federal projects. The population of Chatham County is over 250k residents.

Gulfstream began in 2010, and it's a seven year project.

Riverman1
93348
Points
Riverman1 02/09/13 - 08:19 am
0
0
Don't forget Ft. Gordon is

Don't forget Ft. Gordon is included in Augusta's population.

Gage Creed
19385
Points
Gage Creed 02/09/13 - 11:02 pm
0
0
Countyman? I believe that The

Countyman? I believe that The Southern Company would dispute that Plant Vogtle is a federal project.

Also, if you are going to claim the NSA as a jobs producer, I would argue that the harbor expansion fills the same bill.

The Gulfstream Construction is multiple buildings in multiple locations and some of the projects are just beginning.

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