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Ahem, Downtown Master Planning Needs You

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.

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What's the Latest?

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.

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Things to Do! Places to Go!

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.”

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What Goes in Our Quality of Life Description?

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.

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Keeping Businesses Healthy, Thriving, and Local

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

These types of recognition represent the outstanding quality of businesses that call Canton home.

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Downtown Master Plan and Market Analysis

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.

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Tourism Happening Now

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.”

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Permits and Inspections: Protecting Your Investment

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.

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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.

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Enjoy Canton's Quality of Life

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.

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Canton: The Walkable City

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.

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Canton's Entrepreneurial Economy

Canton is a place where entrepreneurship happens. From those occupying storefronts to online businesses, to home-based businesses, to part-time entrepreneurs, we are home to a wide variety of locally owned and operated businesses.

It is not by accident that locally owned businesses in Canton witness new growth and expansions. In 2014, Canton saw 11 locally owned and operated businesses open per month.

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Retain and Expand

Canton is home to more than 1,196 businesses and 11,847 jobs — and both areas are growing.

Retention, keeping a business in the community, says just as much about the business as it does the community. Much like how customer retention is important to a private operation, business retention to a community reflects stability and trust, and invites the potential for more growth.

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Cash it in Canton

November is here and the holiday season is quickly approaching. During this season we not only reflect on how grateful we are but also begin thinking about shopping for holiday gifts for our loved ones. As holiday shopping moves upward on our priority lists, we should all keep local businesses in mind.

End-of-the-year shopping, especially during the holiday season, is crucial for many businesses. The National Retail Federation reports that holiday sales account for approximately 40 percent of most stores' annual sales. The Saturday after Thanksgiving has been dubbed "Small Business Saturday" by American Express.

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We Keep Canton Growing

Our city, and community, is at an exciting time in its history.

The economy is bouncing back. New businesses are opening, existing businesses are expanding their outreach, jobs are being created, and new construction is taking place every day.

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The Three I’s of Economic Development

Our community is growing and is poised to continue that trend. Growth and development occur due to certain elements that encourage their presence.

Three of those encouraging elements are what I call the "Three I's of Economic Development." These three factors are not the defining solutions to economic growth; however, growth often does not happen without them.

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Central City Urban Redevelopment Plan

We have some exciting plans in the works from our Economic Development office at the City of Canton.  

One is an Urban Redevelopment Plan, which is a tool used by local governments to stimulate private investment in areas of need. It includes an assessment of the existing conditions and an implementation plan. Adopting an Urban Redevelopment Plan is an essential step in getting tax credits through the Opportunity Zone program designated by the Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs and other sources of funding.

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Summer Fun in Canton

Looking for something to do in June? The City of Canton has the event for you! From a Dixie Speedway exhibit at the Cherokee County History Museum and Visitors Center to the Farmers Market held every Saturday until October, there is something for everyone in Canton this month.

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Enjoy Canton's Fun Events in May

May is the perfect time to attend an event in Canton and support our local and nonprofit organizations!

First up is the 11th Annual Kentucky Derby Day at the Rock Barn, hosted by the Cherokee County Historical Society. Held the first Saturday in May in conjunction with the running of the Derby at Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby Day at the Rock Barn is the Historical Society's largest fundraiser and a tribute to the Rock Barn's racing history.

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An Even Better Canton

A new year is under way. The City of Canton now has a new City council with a new direction and a renewed energy.  We have so much to accomplish! At the first council meeting held on January 2, the council reinstated its council meeting policy. This policy allows for a "work session" meeting on the first Thursday of the month and a "voting session" on the third Thursday of the month. The purpose of the two sessions will give the council more time to deliberate and understand an issue before taking action. It will also allow for more opportunities for public input, which is essential for the council to make a good decision.

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