Economic excitement

Recent good news for Augusta is as big as all outdoors

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One sign that you may be spoiled: if you checked the headlines this past weekend for word of another big store opening.

We couldn’t blame you. The good news just seemed to keep coming last week, as Bass Pro Shops announced Wednesday it will build a store at I-20 and Wheeler Road – and then Cabela’s said Thursday it would build at I-20 and Riverwatch.

That means Augusta is getting nearly 100,000 square feet of indoor space for outdoor enthusiasts.

It means hundreds of jobs.

It means the Village at Riverwatch – which already sports a huge Costco – will not only get a Cabela’s, but also a 14-screen movie theater and dining complex, compliments of Georgia Theatre Co.

It means vitality and tax revenue and economic tourism; in some parts of the country, such stores can be the top tourist attractions.

It means tons of better-dressed, better-equipped out-of-doors aficionados.

This, and more, is what the two announcements mean for Augusta and environs.

More important may be what it means about Augusta.

It means national retailers and others see gold in these hills. They see untapped potential and dormant demand. They see opportunity for growth, additional vibrancy and financial success.

Why, if people from elsewhere see this, shouldn’t we?

Why wouldn’t this be a sign that we need to not just be more positive about our community, but get downright excited about it?

Augusta has long been recognized around the country – notably in surveys and rankings – for being a great place to live, with a terrific climate and an unusually affordable standard of living. Increasing numbers of employers, including ADP and Starbucks, have seen the under-realized value in our work force, location and infrastructure.

In truth, perhaps the only thing holding other similar entities back has been the national economic uncertainties since 2008. Fact is, Bass Pro Shops has had its eyes on Augusta for years – and that’s just one company that we know about. Our specialists in economic development, who consult quietly with business and industry prospects every day, most likely know of many others giving Augusta a look. And there are probably others eyeing the region whom local officials don’t even know about.

Now, with the national economy at least stabilized and intrepid companies looking for opportunities to expand, it only makes sense that the Augusta region is at the top of many lists.

We need to let that color
how we view our hometown. As with folks in most locales, many of us have doubtlessly under-appreciated the homestead all along.

Like the outdoorsmen who will revel in visiting two of the great retailers who cater to their passions, we need to get out more and appreciate what we’ve got here.

While trying not to be spoiled.

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countyman
21682
Points
countyman 07/29/13 - 01:39 am
3
3
Augusta is on the rise

The H&M starting construction at the Augusta mall this year is another major addition.

The future job market of Augusta is high tech, and the retailers new to the market will flock here due to the salaries of the local employees. The NSA, Medical Commons, Cancer Center, Plant Vogtle, Bridgestone, Rockwood, Starbucks, Rural Sourcing, etc.

specsta
7181
Points
specsta 07/29/13 - 01:38 am
6
4
You Still Don't Get It

Oh, please ACES...

What is this - Mayberry? Augusta gets a few stores and a theater and now all of a sudden the city is a hot spot? Other cities would yawn at this news. Other cities open stores, build new skyscrapers, attract national sports teams, build new arenas and open attractions for tourists - because that's what progressive cities do.

Augusta is decades behind any other city of this size. This place has the same old skyline, the same old Civic Center, the same old Riverwalk, the same old raggedy streets, the same lousy public transportation, and the same old small-minded thinking.

If anything, instead of patting yourselves on the back for getting another retail store, the leadership and powers-that-be should be hanging their heads in shame at how backwoods this place really is - and how there is a complete lack of vision for things on a grand scale.

But that's the problem. Augusta doesn't know any better. It doesn't understand what a complete joke this "progress" really is...this stuff should have happened 30 years ago.

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 07/29/13 - 02:47 am
3
5
I understand the overall

I understand the overall point, but there's only a select few cities attracting national sports teams, building skyscrapers, etc(metros over 1 million).

The city of Augusta has made some progress in the last few years. The TEE Center is on the riverfront, and is helping attract private developers(Holiday Inn Express underway, and proposed hotel near the common moving forward). The library, Kroc center, vocational high school, judicial center, Augusta Regional, Laney Walker/Bethlehem, etc are great additions to the city. Some of the roads in Augusta do need major repairs, but our interstates are top notch. The I-20/I-520 interchange is something mostly seen in larger cities. GA DOT is spending $30 million right now to improve I-520 in South Augusta.

Augusta is definitely not decades behind any city our size. The GDP of metro Augusta is the second largest in Georgia, and comparable to any peer city. The metro area ranked 2nd in high tech job growth between 2006-2011 with over 80%. Cities like Charleston, Greenville, Chattanooga, and Savannah do have better overall urban cores, but that's about it. What about downtown Macon, Montgomery, Columbus, Jackson, etc? The public transportation system is nothing to brag about in any of these cities until one them separates from the rest of the pack in terms of rail.

People need to understand Augusta managed to attract Apple, Sephora, IMAX, etc before Greenville did. Costco, Apple, Cabela's, etc don't have any locations in Columbia. H&M announced their Augusta/Charleston locations around the same time, but the store doesn't exist in Columbia/Greenville. The cities our size would love to have one, and definitely both( Bass Pro/Cabelas). There's only two Cabelas's in the southeast(Louisville and coming to Greenville), and I'm positive the residents of metro Atlanta are very happy with Cabela's coming to Cherokee County.

Riverman1
94244
Points
Riverman1 07/29/13 - 03:48 am
6
3
The Evans Effect

The truth is the high income of Evans and growth rate are what fueled these stores coming. Evans has been objectively rated the Best Town in Georgia for Young Families due to its income, growth and schools. A metro area is a combination of areas, people and economies. Some provide the jobs, others neighborhoods and others shopping/entertainment. Together, the CSRA is getting better. When one area does well it uplifts the whole.

corgimom
38713
Points
corgimom 07/29/13 - 05:18 am
4
4
"H&M announced their

"H&M announced their Augusta/Charleston locations around the same time, but the store doesn't exist in Columbia/Greenville. The cities our size would love to have one"

For corn's sake, all it is, is a clothing store with cheap discounted clothing. That's all. It doesn't sell anything that Augusta, or anywhere else, doesn't already have.

What specta says is true, other cities don't give this stuff a second thought.

And that's what so sad about Augusta- a clothing store and a sporting goods store is major, huge news.

And manufacturing plants that employ 100 people here, 100 people there is also considered huge news.

That, in a place that has over 9% unemployment and a 23% poverty rate.

Sad.

jpbrig
302
Points
jpbrig 07/29/13 - 05:43 am
4
4
Same old cheap taxes

Augusta has the same old cheap taxes and same old cheap citizens who want the best and not willing to pay for it.

GuyGene
1488
Points
GuyGene 07/29/13 - 06:56 am
5
1
Hold on spec...

Now, wait a minute there, spec. Any city the size of Augusta would definitely have articles in their newspapers about Cabela's, Bass Pro, etc. coming to their towns! And, be excited about it to boot. Yep, I ain't dissing nary announcement about any growth at all. Now, Tanger Outlet, come on - and, welcome too!

seenitB4
98477
Points
seenitB4 07/29/13 - 06:56 am
4
1
Cater to their passions .. heh

I can vouch for MANY from the CSRA coming to the Bass Pro near me...& while there telling or giving their zip code to inform the ceo of where their business would prosper...this was a thought out & very intelligent decision on their part.....so much so.. that another company realized the need & will build there too...

You really do have a lot of hunters--fishermen-outdoorsmen in your area...I live with one & know many of them.

Kinda like Duck Dynasty without the beard..:)

corgimom
38713
Points
corgimom 07/29/13 - 08:02 am
5
3
"Any city the size of Augusta

"Any city the size of Augusta would definitely have articles in their newspapers about Cabela's, Bass Pro, etc. coming to their towns! "

No, most cities the size of Augusta don't rely on low-paying retail jobs as their major employers. Or fast-food restaurants. Or call centers.

More part-time minimum-wage jobs, just what Augusta needs. That'll go far in reducing the poverty rate.

pearlthesquirrel
786
Points
pearlthesquirrel 07/29/13 - 08:23 am
1
0
Can't wait....
Unpublished

...for all those $7 or $8 or $9 an hour jobs that will be coming to a county near you. And then, we can have another 100 or so "burger-joints" that pay minimum wage move in right around the corner from those stores....blah, blah, blah....you know how that story goes. And the other day, the Chronicle made reference to the "incentives" companies/corporation get to come to a specific area. Let me put that in English for you people: "Corporations like it when costs are socialized, but like it even better when profits are privatized." There, the Chronicle didn't have the cajones to say it, so I did. The U.S. is slip-sliding away my friends and YOUR (We, the people) politicians don't give a damn about it one way or the other.

deestafford
32182
Points
deestafford 07/29/13 - 08:48 am
4
2
Hats off to all the leaders of Augusta and the surrounding

area who are making their number one priority the growth of the area. You are responsible for improving the lives of hundreds if not thousands over time.

Granted, as one peels the onion there are some layers which we would like to see better but overall this is a great place to live and work. We do have some warts--racial divide being perhaps the main one and that seems to be more limited to certain aspects of Richmond County and has not infected the rest of the CSRA.

As far as business coming here because of the "cheap" taxes goes, I think we may have the highest tax rate in GA which is about 8% on everything you purchase.

When you look at our traffic and compare it to other cities such as Savannah, Atlanta, Greenville, Columbia, Charlotte, et al you should get on your knees and be thankful we have what we have.

Enjoy the smell of the rose and quit complaining about the thorns.

Bulldog
1333
Points
Bulldog 07/29/13 - 09:54 am
3
4
Amazed

I am continually amazed at the short sighted posters who disparage the additions of new businesses because they are not some huge manufacturing facility. These naysayers don't seem to have any better ideas so they whine about everything. If you don't have anything positive to add, I would suggest that you clam up! I am pleased to see any new business come here. Every new job is one less soul worrying about feeding themselves and/or family. We have a huge population who are not qualified for any job more exacting than retail, they need work more than the people with advanced degrees. I would love to hear that we are going to get a huge pharmaceutical research center which will employ hundreds of highly trained scientists and technicians, but that is not going to solve much of the unemployment problem in Richmond County. In the meantime, I will continue to say "Thanks You" for very new job that shows up!

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 07/29/13 - 11:21 am
2
5
CSRA

I'm positve the high incomes in West Augusta, Martinez, Summerville, Aiken, and Forest Hills caught the eye of private developers.

The Marshall Square development and former Mullins Crossing 2 offers acres of land if the stores wanted to be located in Evans.

deestafford
32182
Points
deestafford 07/29/13 - 10:58 am
5
2
Perhaps the reason Bass Pro and Cabela's located

where they will be is the easily access to I-20. I know I have stopped at the BP north of Atlanta on I-85 numerous times. If it were not on the interstate I would not have gone there. People don't come to Augusta to go to Academy Sports because it is not easily access to the interstate for out of town shoppers. People will come from far away to these two sporting goods store because of easy access.

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 07/29/13 - 11:13 am
2
3
Facts

Corgimom... I know you dislike Augusta, but let's be serious. The residents of Columbia are still waiting on Costco, and definitely Apple.

How can Augusta rely on low paying retail jobs, but rank 2nd in the nation for high tech job growth?

The NSA, Plant Vogtle, Rockwood, Starbucks, Medical Commons, etc is underway and the Cancer Center begins this year.

The Starbucks plant will employ at least 140, and would be considered huge news for any city.. The Governor of Georgia immediately sent out an press release when Starbucks was announced. The plant also won the 2012 'GA Deal of the Year', and won honorable mention for the top economic developments in the entire US by Site Selection.

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 07/29/13 - 11:32 am
3
2
Growth

I-20 is definitely one of the main reasons, but there's plenty of acres of land along I-20.

The Grovetown exit is closer to the money in Evans compared to either the VAR or WTP.

Evans is nothing really special in terms of the demographics versus some other areas in the CSRA. Five Guys opened in West Augusta, Aiken, and finally on Washington rd in Evans. The Jimmy Johns in the Augusta Exchange is now expanding to both Evans/Aiken.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/29/13 - 12:22 pm
3
0
Won't big box stores go by

Won't big box stores go by the wayside via the increase in interweb sales/purchases? Just seems like eventually, anything that can be shipped will be purchased online and arrive at your door. You trade the gasoline purchase for postage. You have more variety to shop. Maybe that accounts for them making these outposts or Cabela-lite or whatever. They anticipate it eventually and saw no point in following their bigger template with no assurance it will last/pay-off.

Riverman1
94244
Points
Riverman1 07/29/13 - 01:46 pm
3
2
Evans

"Evans is nothing really special in terms of the demographics versus some other areas in the CSRA."

It's only the number one ranked town for young families in the state. The ranking is based on income, growth rate and schools. Martinez is ranked 8th. But keep in mind without the jobs provided by the medical district, Ft. Gordon, South Augusta and SRS, Evans would not be ranked number one.

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 07/29/13 - 01:57 pm
2
6
Recognition

.Multiple publications have named Augusta one of the top places to live countless times. I'm sure if A/RC wasn't consolidated West Augusta would probably be on every list possible, and even Southwest Augusta to an lesser extent.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/29/13 - 01:57 pm
2
1
@ Rman

That means on a different scale, Martinez would jump one spot. YES!!!

In your face Evans.

Riverman1
94244
Points
Riverman1 07/29/13 - 02:10 pm
2
3
Ooooofffffff

Ooooofffffff cooooouuuuurrrssseeee, you can keep breaking it down into smaller and smaller areas to compare. But the point is Evans was rated the number one town by using precise measuring criteria. Understand I didn't want to make this into a Columbia County vs. Richmond, but compare the incomes, school scores and growth rate if you must make it county against county. If you don't realize the money Evans pours into the economy to bring stores like Cabela's here you are missing the point. The same as I would be missing the point if I didn't recognize the jobs Richmond Cty provides to those who live in Evans. I'm a prime example.

Riverman1
94244
Points
Riverman1 07/29/13 - 02:11 pm
2
3
About Internet Sales, David P

This is a relatively new method that is going to eliminate certain businesses, no doubt. I think car dealers have had it because of internet sales and real estate companies soon after. Maybe local insurance companies later. There's no need to pay for middle men.

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 07/29/13 - 03:23 pm
2
5
Facts

Your comments are now much different than before. Nobody said Evans didn't help out the local economy. The first comment said the stores were coming here solely because of Evans which is false.

Fiat_Lux
16445
Points
Fiat_Lux 07/29/13 - 03:37 pm
6
1
Now, if we could just get a decent influx of jobs that

actually paid a living wage for workers, then that would really be something to crow about.

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 07/29/13 - 03:53 pm
2
2
Jobs

The Medical Commons, Starbucks plant, Brigestone expansion, Rockwood Plant, and Plant Vogtle are moving forward. The IT company near the CBD Rural Sourcing is hiring, and the CEO said the comment could grow into 200-300 employees.

The NSA opened in 2012, and will hold 4,000 employees at Fort Gordon. The new Cancer Center begins this year, and the final total investment could be $200 millin.

Riverman1
94244
Points
Riverman1 07/29/13 - 05:43 pm
3
3
Richmond County is the hub

Richmond County is the hub of jobs in the CSRA. Columbia County provides scant job opportunities. I personally only know of one person who works in Columbia County up in the industrial park. South Augusta is loaded with industry that provides jobs. That's as factual as I can be. Of course those who are paid well usually end up living in Columbia County. Heck, lots of CC residents work at SRS and that's a long drive. Do I think Costco, Bass Master or Cabela's would come here without the high income people of Evans being close by? Do I think Evans would be so well off without the good paying jobs in Richmond County? Nope to both.

OJP
7777
Points
OJP 07/31/13 - 07:45 am
0
0
I don't understand the motivation to disparage

good news about Augusta. It's a great area and is steadily improving (both supported by objective measures).

Perhaps if people spent their energy trying to improve the city rather than trying to insult it, the city would grow even faster.

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