It’s not by chance that commercial business, manufacturing and industry are growing by leaps and bounds throughout South Fulton, especially considering the largest industrial corridor east of the Mississippi — Fulton Industrial — is located here. In 2011 alone, the district opened in excess of more than 2 million-square-feet of new business that included The Clorox Sales Company, Aaron Rents and Electrolux operations in two of the district’s industrial parks.
One could easily credit the new business to all that the area has to offer: 125,000 acres of suburban countryside and urban cityscape, a temperate climate, affordable land, ready to move lots, proximity to the world’s busiest airport (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport), a major railroad hub (CSX) and major Interstates (I-20, I-75, I-85 and I-285), not to mention other attractive features, such as an award winning school system, a skilled workforce and strong community.
Yet, this growth is not merely the result of an accommodating topography or accessible location. It is in great part the byproduct of smart and sustainable development and revitalization by South Fulton. A goal supported and advanced by commercial property owners of the Fulton Industrial Community Improvement District (CID), the South Fulton CID and the South Fulton Parkway Alliance.
This triumvirate has been steadily fueling the growth of South Fulton through directed efforts to improve the community and its economic interests. Whether it’s improving freight access and transportation, or making advances in safety, sustainability and aesthetics, these groups are paving the way for big gains within South Fulton. In fact, their existence is making the area all the more enticing to potential new business.
A more recent boost to the region is the Fulton Industrial (“The Boulevard”) CID, which was enabled in 2010, and whose members are making major improvements to an area once distressed by blighted properties and crime. Today’s “Boulevard” tells a different story of hope and revitalization. Thanks in part to aggressive efforts by the newly formed CID whose focus is not only improving transportation infrastructure and economic development along the corridor but also making a big impact on public safety and the beautification of the area and its surrounding properties.
The CID is located on the southern end of the Fulton Industrial corridor, with its boundaries extending to the Great Southwest Parkway, Westgate Parkway, Westlake Parkway and Fulton County’s border with Cobb County. The more than 630 businesses in the corridor employ well over 25,000 people, and include the 1.3 million-square-foot Lowes Home Center, Chick-fil-A, Scott Distribution Service, among many other businesses.
While industry along the corridor is well established due in part to its superior location and access to freight transportation, the area itself is beginning to transform into a business- and community-friendly location thanks to the efforts of the CID, which is now taking in $300,000 a year, according to Sandra Hardy, a long-time CID member and South Fulton business owner instrumental in the CID’s growth.
One of the biggest catalysts, according to Hardy, was the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce moving to Fulton Industrial. Adding to the upward momentum, the CID just recently was credited for its efforts to help secure a seven-year 439,487-square-feet lease with New Breed Logistics, a supply chain solutions firm servicing a contract with the U.S. Postal Service.
“We cleaned up Fulton Industrial and landscaped the area making it more attractive to businesses. With these improvements, along with it being a prime location, there has been a steady increase in business recruitment in the area. People who haven’t been there in a while are amazed at the difference,” Hardy said. “It’s an economic engine of Fulton County.”
Other recent CID accomplishments include securing grants for the installation of security cameras for the area, hiring a public safety manager, approving the creation of a community court, enhancing landscape maintenance, partnering with the Georgia and Fulton County departments of transportation for roadway maintenance, and connecting with the Urban Land Institute to study the redevelopment of the I-20/Fulton Industrial Boulevard interchange in partnership with Georgia Power.
In addition, the CID worked to help secure the designation of an Opportunity Zone for a portion of the area. The Opportunity Zone will provide businesses with state tax credits for each job created in the CID. While the majority of the Opportunity Zone is located in the North Fulton area, CID members like Board Chair Thomas Flanigan, who works for real estate experts ING Clarion, have noted that improvements in the northern section should have a positive effect on property values in the southern section of the corridor.
To learn more about the Fulton Industrial CID, contact Board Chair Thomas Flanigan at (404) 691-4007.
Another community-driven initiative attracting business to South Fulton is the South Fulton Parkway Alliance (SFPA). Located southwest of Atlanta, South Fulton Parkway is a 20-mile stretch of highway supporting a mix of businesses, retail outlets, and residential and recreational areas, including the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Georgia International Convention Center, the Majestic Airport Center II, Serenbe, the Cochran Mill Nature Center, Wilkerson Mill and the Dunaway Gardens.
Since October 1995, the Alliance has supported the mission of promoting quality development through the cooperative partnership of area communities, businesses, land owners, Chamber of Commerce, and, local, county and state agencies around issues such as land use, zoning, residential and commercial development, corporate relocations, and government relations.
SFPA President Nick Byers with Upward Logistics Transportation Consultants is expanding the goal of quality development to an even greater focus on sustainable development that he believes will help transform the area.
“We want to attract sustainable development that will bring long-term investment to create a much higher return in the long run,” said Byers. “We’re trying to bring all the communities together and brand the whole corridor as a sustainable green engine for Atlanta and for the whole region, really. If we position ourselves to be ready and develop in a sustainable fashion, we can use our success to attract business and produce great things along the corridor.”
Byers pointed to the Woodward Academy Middle School Complex in College Park as Georgia’s first LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified school and the community of Serenbe, a sustainable residential community in Chattahoochee Hills that was selected as the site for the 2012 HGTV Green Home, as prime examples of the area’s efforts.
“It’s a great area from the perspective of potential business relocation,” Byers added. “You can be an industrial park, retail park, rural, or residential all within 30 minutes of each other. The corridor literally runs right beside the airport — just next to the runway. And all this wasn’t even on the map 10 years ago. You’ve got to have good schools, resources and location. We’ve got all three.”
For more information about the South Fulton Industrial Corridor, visit: www.southfultonparkwayalliance.org.
Location to the airport, access to I-85 and available land is what attracts most business to the South Fulton area,” according to South Fulton CID Administrator Joddie Gray. “But what makes the area truly unique is the committed group of commercial property owners dedicated to improving the area.”
The South Fulton CID was formed in 1999 and is comprised of a self-taxing group of property owners working together to facilitate business and community development. The CID covers 6,446 acres of commercial and industrial property within South Fulton, most of which is located along the Oakley Industrial Boulevard corridor. The Oakley corridor provides access to key industrial areas, including the Southpark Industrial Park, one of the state’s critical logistics centers.
The South Fulton CID was formed largely because of the need for grade separation at Oakley Industrial Boulevard and the nearby CSX railroad tracks. In addition, the CID gave local business leaders the ability to help improve freight access to warehousing, manufacturing and industrial sites along the key stretch of commercial real estate on Oakley Industrial Boulevard and the I-85 intersection.
“The CID worked for years advocating for a bridge over the tracks, seeking funding, donating right of way and fast tracking CSX approvals,” said Gray.
After the bridge was built, the CID turned its efforts to a connected, improved roadway system throughout the CID area for all types of traffic. The new direction led to the CID’s most recent triumph in the form of a $1.5 million Transportation Infrastructure Bank grant from the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority to help finance the upgrade of Oakley Industrial Boulevard from SR 138 to the big bridge over the CSX railroad tracks.
The project, which will upgrade 1.69 miles of the Oakley Industrial Boulevard from two to three lanes and will add turning lanes, shoulders and new sidewalks, has the added benefit of providing pedestrians access to local businesses and provides a safe place to wait for the local school bus.
“The CID was instrumental in finding funding for this project, which spans three jurisdictions,” said Gray. “As a result of their efforts, we have seen growth in manufacturing and warehousing along Oakley Industrial Boulevard, but also commercial growth at key intersections like Oakley Industrial Boulevard and SR 74.”
In addition, the CID is assisting in having the SR 74/I-85 interchange listed as a Transportation Investment Act (TIA) project and is working with the City of Fairburn on the alternatives analysis for the interchange. By working with local jurisdictions to find funding for an Interchange Modification Report (IMR) for the SR 74/I-85 Interchange, the CID has raised $95,000 from the CID, Fayette County, City of Peachtree City and City of Fairburn.
The goals of the CID moving forward are to enhance mobility and safety, and encourage economic vitality through the improvement of the existing transportation infrastructure for those who work, reside, shop and commute in and to the South Fulton CID area.
For more information on the South Fulton CID, visit: www.southfultoncid.com.