Colin Martin rolls out economic development plan; Tomlinson resp - WRBL

Colin Martin rolls out economic development plan; Tomlinson responds

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COLUMBUS, Ga. - Columbus mayoral candidate Colin Martin announced his plan for growing the local economy at a news conference on Thursday. The unveiling of his plan comes about 2 weeks after his announcement of his public safety plan.

“Two weeks ago I introduced a plan for empowering out law enforcement agencies to reduce crime,” said Martin. “As I have campaigned throughout Columbus, voters have been clear that while reducing crime is critically important, growing our local economy and stabilizing city revenues is an equally high priorities.”

Martin says his plan is to grow jobs for citizens and as a result, increase city revenue. The first step for accomplishing this, he says, is to conduct a Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats analysis for Columbus. The analysis would have special attention on Fort Benning in expectation of another round of Base Realignment and Closure, said Martin.

Martin’s second step is to connect citizens to the jobs in Columbus, because he says when people are working they buy homes, goods and services, which all create city revenue.

The mayoral candidate’s third step is to “strengthen the best assets along the southern portion of Veterans Parkway, Victory Drive and South Lumpkin Road.” He proposes to provide property tax abatements to property owners in the area who upgrade their properties.

“This would apply to commercial property, primary residential property, and investment property,” said Martin. “This would take an act of the Georgia General Assembly and I am confident we can find a way to work together.”

Martin’s final step is to reduce the burden on taxpayers. He says he would like to explore privatizing city facilities such as the Columbus Trade Center, restructure the occupational tax and reduce the costs of healthcare by encouraging city employees to adopt healthy lifestyles.

Mayor Tomlinson told News 3 she read the plan and says the city already does a lot of what Martin proposes.

“It sounds like he’s been reading the Revenue Review Commission’s and the Real Estate Investment Initiative Commission’s reports,” Tomlinson said.

When asked what her plan was to grow the local economy, Mayor Tomlinson explained the city has grown substantially since she was elected, and she plans on continuing to move forward with growth.

“We have one of the best unemployment rates in the state,” says Tomlinson. “We’ve gone from 9.4% a year ago to 7.9%”

While Columbus has the 8th lowest unemployment rate in Georgia, it’s still considered “below-average,” according to Colin Martin, because it is below the state average at 7.3%.

Tomlinson also says the city already offers tax abatements for residential and commercial properties in areas along the southern portion of Veterans Parkway, Victory Drive and South Lumpkin Road. The residential tax abatements have certain stipulations and are available only for lots in the housing enterprise zone.

David Hurst

David Hurst, a graduate of the Univ. of Georgia, focuses on how your tax dollars are being spent.

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