In 2016, downtown Canton welcomed a number of new and exciting projects and developments that are bound to boost its vibrancy. These new projects included the sale of the Historic Board of Education properties to the Harris Group for mixed-use development, incoming restaurants at 151 West Main Street and 170 North Street as well as our very first downtown brewery.
These announcements come in addition to the ongoing festivals and regularly-programmed events, such as First Friday and the Farmers Market, which already exist downtown. Other happenings, like Zombie Fest and BBQ & Brews, also contribute to the growth, vibrancy and visibility of our city.
Oftentimes, someone will recommend that the economic development office should contact a particular restaurant or retailer to put Canton on their radar, “Canton could use a ____ store,” or “It would be nice if we had a ____ in town.” The blanks can be filled with a variety of establishments.
These suggestions are appreciated. More often than not, they create interesting conversations with concerned citizens who want to see Canton grow and prosper. It also provides insight to community preference and desirability for support of such businesses. These are typically good indicators for targeted business recruitment efforts.
The Canton economy is in growth mode. The positive results of economic expansion can be seen in new homes being built, new commercial buildings rising and new businesses coming to town. These are good indicators of local desirability and a healthy business climate.
This past June and July, the number of building permits issued hit triple digits! Local businesses are hiring. Local wages are on the rise. Local industries such as Northside Hospital-Cherokee, Piolax Corporation and Universal Alloy are expanding.
How does an inquiring business find out what properties are available in the area? When a company researches the community, likes what they see and wants to scout vacant buildings and sites, where do they look?
Maybe you or someone you know is really interested in opening a local business and wants to learn more about available spaces, and explore the demographics of the area. Where can this information be found?
The answer: CherokeeGaProspector.com.
The citizens of Canton understood the importance of community participation when it came to coming up with the Downtown Master Plan. They willingly responded, and the Plan is now complete.
Hopefully, #CantonForward is a familiar name, phrase and tagline to you. It is the formal title given to the Downtown Master Plan and Market Analysis. #CantonForward is Canton’s plan to revitalize, redevelop and rejuvenate downtown and the River Mill District. Revitalization is done by attracting jobs, leveraging history, encouraging appropriate development and creating strategies to better serve the transportation needs of citizens, businesses and visitors.
You’ve probably seen them before. They’ve become more frequent visitors to the area. They travel in a fleet of vehicles; they occupy buildings and pause traffic.
They carry heavy duty equipment. More often than not, they wear street clothes, and they’re notorious for bringing a celebrity or two with them in each of their visits.
Can you guess who? It’s film crews!
This past March, Canton ranked fifth out of fifty on a list of the safest cities in Georgia by BackGroundChecks.org. This most recent listing means Canton has ranked in the top ten safest cities in Georgia for three consecutive years. Such an acclaim assures us of the great work the City and our law enforcement is doing to ensure our safety.
However, beyond the ranking, knowing that a city and its neighborhoods, communities and properties are safe is also a solid indicator of economic confidence, which encourages new investment. The economic impact of crime on neighborhoods and businesses potentially creates a negative effect on communities that can take many years to overcome.
Oftentimes, whenever we think of a company or organization’s brand, we recall its logo. However, the two are not one in the same. The logo is a central element to a brand, but a logo is not a brand in its entirety.
When we think of popular brands, most often companies like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s or Wal-Mart come to mind, and rightfully so. These are some of the most popular companies with the most recognizable brands in the world.
However, beyond the logo is the customer’s actual experience. Experience is the brand; the logo is the face of that brand.
We are getting better and better at encouraging people to bring their businesses to Canton.
We tout the great things happening here, from major developments like Northside Hospital-Cherokee’s replacement facility to the synergistic growth of downtown.
You see our progress, and you want your business to be a part of it, so you choose to bring your business here.
You then ask, “How, exactly, do I open my business in Canton?”
The good news is there’s no secret formula. We have resources and people ready to help you every step of the way.
Perhaps you have noticed the increased number of new businesses in downtown Canton lately. Retailers, restaurants and new offices have moved into the city’s center, bringing new visitors to downtown with them.
Suites do not sit vacant for as long as they used to. Parking spaces are occupied during the day. You see people strolling around Main and North Streets. Festivals and events introduce hundreds to the city of Canton, Georgia.
These are indicators of a vibrant community, and my hat is off to everyone working so hard to improve Canton; you know who you are.
Usually when I’m out and about town, I get asked “Hey Matthew, what’s the latest?”
“What’s going on at such-and-such?”
“What are we going to have once all of that construction is done?”
I don’t mind the questions. In fact, I enjoy the dialogue and discussions that are derived from these conversations. It helps better understand the concerns and preferences of our community, and helps me realize that people care about the development activity taking place around them.
What is there to do in Canton? I get asked this question numerous times in a day’s work.
It’s a valid question. What are the options for recreation after work, in the evening, on weekends or in general down time? Are there places to take the family for a night out or celebrate a special occasion?
My answer is, “Yes! There are places to celebrate, socialize, and wind down in Canton. There are many options to suit your preference, mood and budget.”
What comes to mind when you consider the words “quality of life?”
It is often used when referring to a community’s desirability as a place to live, work, raise a family, and do business. We also consider access to basic human necessities and leisure options as part of the equation. However, when assessing quality of life, we should also consider shopping, dining, and entertainment choices as a component of a broader need for recreation and relaxation.
Shopping, dining, and entertainment availability adds value to communities, from food necessities such as grocery stores, to clothing, home maintenance, technology and arts and culture. Generally, people are happier and healthier when these goods and services are quickly accessible. Thus, holistically speaking, retail, restaurants, and entertainment are also good for communities.
Keeping existing businesses healthy, thriving, and local is critical for every community’s growth. Fortunately for us, we have that here.
So before I go any further, I would like to acknowledge two local businesses for incredible achievements:
Universal Alloy received a Supplier of the Year award from the Boeing aircraft manufacturing company.
R&M Sandwich Shop was listed among the best sandwich shops in Georgia by OnlyInYourState.com.
These types of recognition represent the outstanding quality of businesses that call Canton home.
The City of Canton has been selected by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) to receive $104,000 for a Downtown Master Plan and Market Analysis. The purpose of the Master Plan and Market Analysis is to help identify and fund programs, initiatives, and further planning to create a more commercially, residentially and culturally robust downtown district.
Across the nation, more and more communities are waking up tourism’s impact on their economies. It is not hard to see. Tourism brings many positives for any community open to welcoming it.
Tourism happens when outside dollars are spent inside the community. For example, when someone living in Tennessee spends their money in Georgia (or vice versa), it is tourism. Dollars that previously were not in the community are now circulating inside the local economy; which helps explain why many refer to tourism spending as “new money.”
Based on research by the Georgia Department of Economic Development, “The tourism industry in Georgia is the 5th largest employer in the state with a total economic impact of $53.6 billion, supporting more than 411,000 jobs, or 10.2% of all payroll employment in Georgia. Taxes of $2.8 billion were directly and indirectly generated by tourism in 2013. Each household in Georgia would need to be taxed an additional $770 per year to replace the tourism taxes received by state and local governments.”
Springtime is an exciting time of year. The sun shines longer, festivals and events start lining our calendars, and typically many of our existing businesses begin making exterior modifications, renovations, and planned facelift projects. Spring also marks when many new businesses choose to open.
I am often asked about what incentives or funding assistance programs are available from the city. It is, by the way, a good question to ask. Most business start-up and relocation decisions are expensive and any financial assistance available to cut costs helps.
The City of Canton has an extensive list of incentives strategically designated for disinvested, underinvested, or underdeveloped parts of town. Canton’s incentive information is also listed on the city’s website and in our recently published ‘Canton Community Profile.’ In case you have questions about what incentives we have; here is a brief summary of them.
2015 begins with a few significant changes and unknowns. The Painted Pig closed its doors in January (but their management team is still going strong serving up great food at The Study). The Jones Building has yet to see a buyer, and our Main Street Director, Meghan Griffin, who has done an outstanding job leading the program since 2013, is leaving.
Canton is becoming a walkable city. Walkability means friendliness for pedestrian activity. To promote pedestrian activity there must be connectivity.
People desire walkable places and accessibility. While metro Atlanta is doing its part to catch up, research shows that more and more people and employers are choosing places where many of life’s necessities are in walking distance. What makes for a desirable, walkable place is accessibility to employment, housing, recreation, education, and other services within a, give or take, 20-minute walk. Walks are safe, useful, and productive.