The City of Roswell has seen rapid growth and change over the last few years. Since its inception, Roswell Inc has played a vital role in many of these changes. In the first quarter of this year alone, we have achieved goals that would likely not have been met ten, or even five years ago. We have seen many breakthroughs as we continue to shape the future of Roswell. I’d like to touch on a few of these achievements as examples.
The approval of the Unified Development Code (UDC) has changed the way we do business in Roswell and will assist in making the vision for Roswell a reality. The current council recognized that the old zoning codes were outdated, dating back to the 19070’s, and not user friendly. The UDC now assists revitalization of areas in decline, allows for additional housing options, and solves conflicting rules to attract high-quality projects. The new code is already helping make Roswell more economically competitive by streamlining the application and development process. Through working closely with the City of Roswell, prospects, developers and the business community, Roswell Inc has been able to further amend the UDC when opportunities and conflicting rules arise.
For example, Roswell has a need for additional hotels. The current supply cannot keep up with the rising tourism demand. The former ordinance stated that boutique hotels in Roswell could not offer more than 30 rooms. It was suggested that this number should be raised significantly based on multiple proforma analysis. Roswell Inc advocated the increase to 125 rooms per boutique hotel . The adjustment came before council and was approved. This change will allow for the continued growth of the tourism industry in Roswell.
Another large milestone was the adjustment to the alcohol ordinance. Roswell Inc led the way for the creation of a “district” in the downtown area which will “allow participants to carry alcohol out of a licensed establishment within a designated area defined as a Carry District.” Diners will be able to move freely around this designated area with the beverages they pay for, allowing easier protocol and sales of alcohol during such special events as Alive After Five.
A big announcement that was recently released is the opening of a Fresh Market in the Roswell Corners Shopping Center at the intersection along Woodstock Road at Hardscrabble Road. This well-known, well-respected grocer was wooed by Roswell early on. Changes to the liquor ordinance in the Parkway Village corridor allowed them to move forward and secure a lease for their new location. Their new space, formerly Staples, had been vacant since mid January, and now, by years end, it will be occupied by a valuable addition to the community.
We continue to collaborate with property owners and the City to improve the east and west alleys on Canton St. For years, they have been undefined and mainly used as dumpster space. Our goal is to clean them up, make them over and create useable, walkable space for everyone to enjoy.
Roswell Inc’s programs have also seen dramatic growth in participation and productivity. This Spring’s Roswell Business Academy series has been our best yet. Even though we are getting everyone up a little early in the morning, this season’s academies have been packed with local business owners and entrepreneurs. The programs themselves have been wonderfully informative, but the networking opportunities alone are reason enough to attend.
We launched Dine Out Roswell this year with great success. This new take on the former Roswell Restaurant Week encouraged diners to dine out in Roswell as many times as possible throughout one week in February for the chance to win one of several prizes. The response was very encouraging and we plan to continue and expand the event next year, as well as add additional dining focused events.
One of Roswell Inc’s main objectives is to create a bridge between the business community and community development. A prime example of this was the town hall meeting we facilitated with Roswell Next. This meeting created an open forum for community leaders to learn about a new multi-use development project in Roswell known as Riverwalk Village. A panel of experts involved in the project were available to make presentations about the project and connect with residents and business owners in the community.
Roswell’s unemployment rate continues to drop, and has remained one of the lowest in the state. Our efforts to attract and retain major employers has increased our workforce with skilled and qualified employees. We regularly partner with RUMC Job Networking and the Georgia Department of Labor to encourage further job education and recruitment. At the rate we are going, we will continue to be a top place to work and do business in Georgia.
Roswell Inc continues to expand and adjust our programs to better serve the needs of local businesses. as well as work with the City to make Roswell a strong choice to do business. We will continue to champion projects that we believe serve the vision for the future of Roswell. And most importantly, we will continue to be an advocate for the business community so that Roswell can remain one of the best cities in the country to live, work and play.