How Walker Works – Development Authority

Since the 1960’s, the Walker County Development Authority has worked to recruit and retain business and industry in our community.  Robert Wardlaw, Economic & Community Development Director sums it up like this, “We turn dirt into jobs, that is our mission… and jobs help families.”

The Development Authority consists of six members: one from LaFayette, one from Chickamauga, one from Rossville, one from the county and two at-large members.  While represented by the cities and county, the authority operates independently, as established by the state of Georgia.

Serving as the first point of contact, the Development Authority connects a prospective industry with available buildings and land, workforce data, permitting agencies and other community information.  “Property that would be owned by the Development Authority would certainly be marketable to prospective new businesses and also private landowners would contact us and ask us to put their property that would be suitable for industrial development into our database/inventory of available property,” explained Wardlaw.

The Development Authority is also the only entity in Walker County that can offer incentives, such as tax abatements, bond financing or free land, among other considerations.  Wardlaw said, “All of these things are carefully weighed to their appropriateness through what value is the prospective industry going to bring to the citizens of the county.”

The Development Authority holds public meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. at the Walker County Civic Center.

http://walkercountyga.gov/tag/podcast/feed/

Sunday Alcohol Sales Now Legal in Walker County

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield signed off on an ordinance amendment last night giving local businesses the ability to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

In November, voters approved two ballot measures addressing alcohol sales.  61% approved giving restaurants the ability to sell beer, wine and distilled spirits by the drink on Sundays between 11:00 a.m. and midnight.  62% voted to allow beer and wine sales at grocery and convenience stores on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Walker County already allows on premise consumption (liquor by the drink) and package sales of beer and wine Monday through Saturday.  The change to the ordinance takes effect immediately, giving existing licensed businesses the green light to make sales on Sunday, December 30th.
Hours of sale in unincorporated Walker County (effective 12/28/18)

On premise consumption (restaurants):
Monday – Thursday – 8:00 a.m. to midnight
Friday – Saturday – 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Sunday – 11:00 a.m. to midnight

Off premise sales (retail – grocery/convenience stores):
Monday – Saturday – 24 hours per day
Sunday – 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

How Walker Works – Zoning

http://walkercountyga.gov/tag/podcast/feed/

Walker County first adopted land development regulations in the early 1980’s to establish standards and procedures for development and to foster safe and orderly growth in the county.  The planning office handle any rezones, variances, subdivision plats and building permits.

Every parcel of land in Walker County has been given a zoning designation, classifying how the property can be used. There are ten different types of zones in Walker County.  “R1 is your most restricted residential zoning. No businesses, no mobile homes are allowed and it’s only single family. No multi-family allowed,” said Kristy Parker, Planner.

R1, R2, R3 and RA cover residential.  There is also A1 for agriculture, C1 for commercial, CN for commercial neighborhood like a hair salon or convenience store, I1 for industrial, PUD for planned unit developments such as Fieldstone Farms, and CBOD or the Chickamauga Battlefield Overlay District.

Property can be rezoned by filing an application at the Planning Office, receiving approval from the Planning Commission and approval from the County Commissioner.

Walker County & City of LaFayette Recognized for Tourism Efforts

Cartersville, GA – Walker County’s growing reputation as an outdoor adventure destination just received a boost from regional travel industry professionals.  Northwest Georgia’s Historic High Country Travel Association (HHCTA) recognized Walker Rocks with the 2018 Award for Association Excellence for Best Marketing Campaign.

Walker Rocks, a partnership between the Walker County Chamber of Commerce and Walker County Government, highlights the scenic and stunning destinations available in the county for rock climbing, caving, kayaking, hiking, biking and other outdoor experiences.  The campaign launched with the creation of videos highlighting local attractions, a start-up grant competition to encourage business growth in the tourism industry and the introduction of walkerrocks.com and several social media platforms, among other efforts.

“It’s thrilling to know that others in the region are taking note of what we have to offer here in Walker County,” said Lacey Wilson, President of the Walker County Chamber of Commerce.  “The Chamber is proud to be part of the collaborative team working to showcase and share the assets of this community with the rest of the world.”

Robert Wardlaw, Economic & Community Development Director for Walker County Government, said “This validates the valuable role tourism plays in our community.  Six months in and we’re already seeing an increase in sales tax revenue and a boost in occupancy at area accommodations.”  Wardlaw added, “Walker Rocks is fun, but Walker Rocks is also an economic initiative to help bring equity to our tax base, which in turn helps our citizens.”

HHCTA, which is comprised of travel industry professionals from a 17-county area, also honored one of Walker County’s cities for its tourism efforts.  HHCTA named the City of LaFayette’s Honeybee Festival as Best Event and LaFayette Mayor Andy Arnold as Tourism Advocate of the Year.

How Walker Works – Building Permits

http://walkercountyga.gov/category/podcast/feed

The Walker County Planning Office serves as the county’s permitting office, issuing permits for building construction, electrical service repair and installation, mobile homes, modular homes, accessory buildings and land disturbance activity.

“Any structural change or any addition, you have to get a permit,” said planning staff member, Kristy Parker.

Any structure that is 10×10 or larger requires a permit, including pre-built storage sheds. New construction will also undergo four mandatory inspections to insure life safety and design standards.  “A footing foundation, a rough-in inspection, a final electrical and a final walk-through,” added Parker.

Projects like painting, remodeling a bathroom or adding a pool or fence to your property to not require a permit. For additional information about the permitting process, contact our staff at (706) 638-4048.

Battlefield Outdoors Wins First Walker Rocks Start-Up Challenge Pitch Competition

Chickamauga, GA – Walker Rocks will soon be hitting the road.  David Bridges, owner of Battlefield Outdoors, won a $5,000 grant at the first ever Walker Rocks Start-up Challenge pitch competition.  Bridges competed against two other finalists, selected from a pool of applicants.

Bridges pitched the idea of adding a passenger van to his business to transport outdoor enthusiasts to hiking, biking and kayaking destinations in Walker County and other parts of the southeast.  The van will be wrapped with the Walker Rocks logo, along with artwork featuring Walker County based attractions.  “It’s a way for people to find out about us and to get interest in an area that we know is so great,” said Bridges.  “There are so many things that would lend to people wanting to come here.”

The Walker Rocks Start-up Challenge pitch competition was designed to help a recreational, travel or hospitality business get started or expand in Walker County, building on the momentum created by the launch of Walker Rocks this summer.

Walker Rocks highlights the scenic and stunning destinations available in Walker County for rock climbing, caving, kayaking, hiking, biking and other outdoor adventures. The new tourism initiative embraces the county’s environmental assets and invites outdoor enthusiasts to come play.

In addition to promoting tourism in Walker County, Bridges said the shuttle, which will be able to carry up to 15 people, will make it feasible for Battlefield Outdoors to take people to Pigeon Mountain, McLemore Cove and other locations for excursions.

The $5,000 start-up grant is funded by a partnership between the Walker County Chamber of Commerce and Peach State Federal Credit Union. Grant funds will be distributed in the form of a reimbursement for documented expenses.

Three Finalists Selected for Walker Rocks Start-Up Challenge Pitch Competition

Chickamauga, GA – $5,000 will be on the line later this month when three local entrepreneurs compete in the first ever Walker Rocks Start-up Challenge.

The Walker Rocks Start-up Challenge is a pitch competition designed to help a recreational, travel or hospitality business get started or expand in Walker County, building on the momentum created by the launch of Walker Rocks this summer.

Walker Rocks highlights the scenic and stunning destinations available in Walker County for rock climbing, caving, kayaking, hiking, biking and other outdoor adventures. The new tourism initiative embraces the county’s environmental assets and invites outdoor enthusiasts to come play.

Back Archer Farms, Tess de’Carlo and Battlefield Outdoors will present their ideas to a panel of judges at a pitch event on Thursday, September 20th. Each finalist will have 10 minutes to describe their idea and field questions from the judges. The competition begins at 4:00 p.m. at the Walker County Civic Center and is free and open to the public.

A $5,000 start-up grant, funded by a partnership between the Walker County Chamber of Commerce and Peach State Federal Credit Union, will be on the line at the September 20th pitch event. Grant funds will be distributed to the winner in the form of a reimbursement for documented expenses.

Walker County Voters to Decide Brunch Bill, Sunday Beer & Wine Sales in November

LaFayette, GA – Walker County voters will be given the opportunity to expand alcohol sales to Sundays in the unincorporated areas of the county. Two questions will appear on the ballot in November as a referendum.

The Georgia General Assembly recently approved an amendment to state law to allow restaurants, through local referendum, to serve alcoholic beverages beginning at brunch on Sundays. If approved by voters, restaurants could sell beer, wine and distilled spirits by the drink between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 Midnight.

In addition to considering the brunch bill, Walker County voters will be asked if they would like to expand package sales of malt beverages and wine to Sundays. If approved, grocery and convenience stores would be able to sell beer and wine on Sundays between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Walker County would join Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and Rossville in permitting Sunday package sales.

Walker County already allows package sales of beer and wine, as well as liquor by the drink Monday through Saturday.

Commissioner Shannon Whitfield said, “My office has been encouraged by citizens and local business owners to explore expanding our current regulations on beverage sales. If voters approve these two questions, it will clear up some confusion over what’s allowed and when it’s allowed. It will also create an additional revenue stream to reduce some of the burden placed on property owners to fund government services.”

The referendum will be held on Tuesday, November 6th. If voters approve, the new rules will take effect December 1, 2018.

“Walker Rocks” Outdoor Adventure Tourism Initiative Launched in Walker County

Chickamauga, GA – The Walker County Chamber and Walker County Government proudly launch Walker Rocks, an initiative to showcase the unique outdoor activities available in Walker County.

Walker Rocks highlights the scenic and stunning destinations available in our community for rock climbing, caving, kayaking, hiking, biking and other outdoor adventures. This new tourism focus, which includes the creation of WalkerRocks.com, invites outdoor enthusiasts around the world to come explore Walker County’s environmental wonders.

In 2016, the tourism industry supported 640 jobs in Walker County and generated over $63 million in direct tourist spending. “Walker County has organically developed into a destination for people seeking outdoor adventures, but there is plenty of room for growth,” said Lacey Wilson, President of the Walker County Chamber. “The experiences available in Walker County create lasting memories and it’s time to share those experiences with others,” added Wilson.

Walker Rocks is a platform to encourage outdoor enthusiasts to make the Walker County trip. “Walker County is the outdoor adventure destination of the south,” noted Robert Wardlaw, Economic & Community Development Director for Walker County Government. “Those who come to ride horses, hike to waterfalls or venture through our caves will spend money here, increasing demand for new businesses, such as outfitters, restaurants and hotels,” added Wardlaw.

Along with the launch of the Walker Rocks brand, Wilson revealed plans for the “Walker Rocks Start-up Challenge,” a pitch competition to help a new recreational, travel or hospitality business get started or expand in Walker County. A $5,000 start-up grant will be offered to the winner, funded by a partnership between the Chamber and Peach State Federal Credit Union. Applications are available starting today at WalkerRocks.com and due by August 20.

http://walkercountyga.gov/category/podcast/feed

Statement from Commissioner Whitfield Concerning Preservation Society’s Plans to Drop Lawsuit

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield released the following statement after learning the Preservation Society planned to drop its legal action against Walker County, relieving taxpayers of the financial burden of defending costly litigation.

“Though well-meaning citizens may have varying opinions about specific economic development opportunities, everyone agrees job and wage growth remain a common goal,” said Whitfield. “We will continue to represent the citizens of Walker County in good faith and with the highest integrity as we pursue companies that desire to create quality jobs and be good corporate citizens in our community.”

“By working together to achieve our common goal, we enhance our appeal to prospective partners around the world and present our community in a positive light,” Whitfield added.