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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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