Oden uses State of the County speech to emphasize economic development efforts

CONYERS -- Business and economic development were the highlights provided by Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden Thursday during the annual State of the County address.

Oden spoke of ongoing projects such as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Urban Redevelopment Plan for 1,909 acres between the city of Conyers and the DeKalb County line that the county will build on to emphasize the theme of the evening -- "Rebuilding, Reuniting and Re-energizing" Rockdale County.

The county has partnered with the state Department of Community Affairs to include an opportunity zone in the area. Businesses who move into the zone are eligible for state tax credits for job creation. Oden also noted the sewer agreement with DeKalb County to service the area puts the county in a strong position to attract new business.

Oden reiterated his support for public safety noting that residents must feel safe to live here and prosper. He noted that the Sheriff's Office and Fire Rescue were the only county departments that received substantial increases in their 2012 budgets.

Also, Bud Sosebee and Tommy Clack were named recipients of the county's Charles P. Cole Citizen Involvement Award. Sosebee, a former Rockdale County commissioner and World War II veteran, and Clack, Georgia Veterans Memorial Park Foundation chairman and Vietnam War veteran, were recognized Thursday for their efforts in building the Walk of Heroes memorial in north Rockdale County.

Once completed, the memorial will be the largest of its kind in the country. The Walk of Heroes memorial is itself a potential economic development project. Plans for the memorial include a conference center and museum.

Atlanta Regional Commission Executive Director Doug Hooker was the guest speaker of the evening and spoke about important decisions the region faces this year in the form of the regional T-SPLOST referendum, water management and education initiatives.

Hooker spoke of how all communities in metro Atlanta must think more of themselves as a region rather than as individual jurisdictions.

"Not to think of what Rockdale County has to do for itself or what DeKalb County has to do for itself, but what we can do for our neighbors," Hooker said.