Joint Development Authority

"It’s a proven fact that our labor draw comes from all three counties. We work hard to promote the entire region," Lyn Brumby Allen, Franklin’s director of economic development, Georgia Trend, April 2009

Stephens County joined Franklin County and Hart County’s Industrial Building Authority in the Joint Development Authority in 1996. Through regular collaboration, the JDA initiates and manages development projects in Northeast Georgia impacting the three counties in the growing I-85 corridor.

The JDA is a legislative authority (not a constitutional authority) and is comprised of four voting members from each participating county, for a total of 12 voting members. Members are appointed by their respective county commissioners and serve staggered four year terms so the maximum JDA turnover is 50 percent per election cycle.

The JDA business plan spells out major initiatives including Hwy 17 widening, maximizing the Hartwell Railroad, the joint development park, etc. Marketing has shifted from individual counties with about 25,000 residents each to a regional focus which includes more than 100,000 residents. A commuting workforce from South Carolina further increases the pool of available employees.

The JDA's first project was Gateway Industrial Park, a fully developed 150-acre industrial park  completed in 2005. Within weeks of completing the industrial park’s infrastructure, the Joint Development Authority had already received its first new industry. From that date forward, industrial development has flourished in the tri-county area, yielding outstanding results for all the surrounding communities.

The Gateway industrial development encompasses land in both Hart and Franklin counties. The property was purchased for $1.4 million through low-interest or no-interest loans taken by the tri-county authority. Grants from the state of Georgia and the federal government, as well as local sales tax revenues, have helped pump more than $1.5 million into the project for grading, road work, sewer lines, water lines and a 500,000-gallon water tower.

Projects List

  • Rail Spur in Hartwell – Quality Industries
  • Lake Hartwell Mega Boat Ramps and Fishing Piers in Franklin, Hart and Stephens
  • Hartwell Railroad – Potential CSX Connection in Elberton
  • City of Toccoa Downtown Revitalization, Canopy project
  • Letters of Support for individual authority projects
  • Broadband Infrastructure – technology feasibility in-progress
  • Ongoing collaboration on Project Manager Tours, Prospect Visits, WorkReady, and more

Download more information here.


The SCDA is responsible for the recruitment of new businesses including industrial, manufacturing, distribution, corporate and regional headquarters and customer service centers. It also provides support and assistance with all other types of economic development projects.

The SCDA also works with existing businesses and industries to ensure their continued success. While recruitment of new industry is a significant function, aiding in existing industry expansion and retention is just as significant. About 80 percent of all new jobs in Georgia come as a result of existing industry expansion.

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A couple of years ago, the Stephens County Development Authority informed us that we were located in an Opportunity Zone which qualified us for tax credits that were applied to our GA payroll taxes for adding new employees. We were able to realize these savings. We are thankful to our local development authority for making sure that we were taking advantage of all the tax credits available to us. -
From the beginning of our interest in moving to Toccoa-Stephens County, the Stephens County Development Authority made regular trips to our office to make sure we are adjusting to our new home and acclimated to the community resources in Stephens County. They provided a wealth of information on Georgia Business Incentives and tax incentives specific to Stephens County. They introduced us to many connections in Stephens County. We now are well connected with the Department of Labor and attend their monthly meeting and after SCDA's help with some paperwork we have taken advantage of GDOL's Incumbent Worker Program. The Development Authority also shared their long list of local vendors with us and we were able to find our utilities provider, an insurance agent, a computer technician and research local CPAs. Basically, the SCDA is our go to. If we can't figure it out or just need some guidance on an issue we don't hesitate to pick up the phone and call. We definitely appreciate the Stephens County Development Authority's efforts to make Toccoa a great place to do business. They truly make us feel welcome and appreciated in Stephens County! -
31 W. Doyle Street, Toccoa GA 30577
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