Crews talks county projects for 2019, looks back at busy 2018
Published 7:31 pm Friday, January 4, 2019
Troup County saw economic growth in 2018, and according to County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews, residents can expect even more industrial and housing growth in 2019.
“2018 was a very good year in Troup County,” Crews said. “A couple of things came to fruition.”
Crews noted Troup County’s low unemployment rate and the influx of new businesses to the community, which have in turn meant more people visiting downtown areas to eat and shop. He said the impact of those visitors is especially visible with Great Wolf Lodge guests moving through downtown LaGrange with wolf ears still perched on their heads.
“What Great Wolf has meant to our community in increasing tourism [is incredible],” Crews said. “I talk to people from around the state, and they go, ‘I think I am going to have to go to Great Wolf.’ I am very excited about what it means for the entire community.”
While many residents focused on the new restaurants and activities attached to the resort, Crews, like many local politicians, focused on the economic impact of the business.
“It is a game changer for our community,” Crews said. “We don’t have a year’s worth of numbers to see, but we know that in the first couple months, it was very good for Troup County in terms of hotel and sales taxes.”
He said that the county will focus on infrastructure while managing the upcoming growth. Some of that infrastructure will be funded by SPLOST. These dollars will also fund some major projects within the county, including a new fire department headquarters and station renovations and upgrades, as well as a new Agricultural Center.
“The one for me that has been a personal interest is working on the development of the [Agricultural] Center,” Crews said. “[With] the new extension office, there will be opportunities for home [economics] type classes, 4-H, backyard gardeners. I am really excited about trying to get that off the ground.”
Crews emphasized the importance of agriculture to rural Troup County as well as to backyard gardeners.
“I think it is going to be a benefit to our community, and it will help maintain some of our history that we’ve had in agriculture,” Crews said. “Some people think of agriculture, but that’s for our backyard gardens, farmer’s markets and to support some of our existing agriculture and then agro tourism.”
Crews also counted the hiring of new County Manager Eric Mosley and Citizen Engagement Specialist Rachel Camp among some of the county’s top accomplishments for the 2018 because of the impact both may have on the county in the future.
Additionally, he said he is excited to see other major projects take place in the community by other groups. The Georgia Department of Transportation’s work on Hamilton Road and the Greenville Street Bridge are expected to see major progress in 2019.
Meanwhile, projects like The Ray, The Thread and park projects in Hogansville and West Point will likely make traveling through the county a more scenic experience. He also celebrated West Point’s recent announcement that a new truck stop will be built near the interstate.
Considering the economic growth in the county in 2018, Crews said one of the top challenges in 2019 will be ensuring that there continue to be enough trained workers to fill the needs of businesses locating in the county.
“The challenge is always to find workers,” Crews said.
“Workforce development for a community that is growing is always going to be a challenge.”
With some new workers moving to the area, Crews also highlighted the importance of making sure that the right kind of homes are available to meet demand.
“We’ve got people knocking on our doors, but we haven’t solved all our issues with housing and having appropriate housing,” Crews said. “GICH [Georgia Initiative for Community Housing] is doing a survey of what people are wanting and what we have, so I think housing is going to be an issue.”
To take part in the GICH survey, visit Surveymonkey.com/r/TroupHousing.