The city of North Augusta held a two-day planning session last week, and day two was focused all around growth in the city, including incentivizing new and existing businesses and growing city limits through annexation.
One topic of discussion was creating business incentives, especially around the corridor of Martintown Road from Atomic Road to Highway 1.
"Say you enter in our city from Georgia Avenue coming up 13th Street from Augusta, then you would certainly say that the gateway into our city is attractive for anyone – for business, for visitors for citizens," said City Administrator Todd Glover. He mentioned the city has invested a lot in the gateway at Exit 5 off Interstate 20.
"But would you say that coming into our city off Highway 1 from Martintown Road fits the vision and mission statement that we just crafted?" he asked.
The answer was "no," coming from a few of those in the room, which included City Council members and directors of the city's departments.
Glover proposed incentivizing businesses with a number of things, including returning a percentage of building permit fees, business license fees and hospitality taxes, among others, determined on a case-by-case basis.
"If a business were going to locate in North Augusta, and it was a big enough business to warrant us incentivizing them, if you've never had it, then what are you missing if you give them all of it back for some period of time?" Glover asked.
He said incentives could also be offered to existing businesses who make additional investments into their business.
The traffic counts for the intersection at Martintown Road and Atomic Road is the highest of any city, seeing around 21,000 cars per day, Glover said.
"If you want to say 'OK, the highest traffic count intersection in our city has a vacant lot, a car wash, a gas station and an oil change place,' I would say from an economic standpoint, that's not good for us," Glover said. "We need to be doing something there to change the narrative of what businesses are there."
He added later the city needs to be "innovative and aggressive" regarding the area.
Envision also touched on growth with annexation, as the city has a number of properties contiguous with city limits where owners have signed annexation agreements.
Other topics discussed include recycling, which is facing a revenue issue caused in part by import restrictions set by China, a country that purchases a lot of recycled materials, and water, as many of the city residents who live north of Interstate 20 have water service through Edgefield Water and Sewer Authority.