The Inc Blog

Board of Directors Announces Name Change

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A new name has been announced for the governing organization and board of directors that oversees both Roswell’s tourism program, Visit Roswell, and Roswell’s economic development program, Roswell Inc. The new name—Roswell Economic Development and Tourism, Inc.—was announced at the organization’s board meeting on July 18, 2018, and replaces the previous name, Historic Roswell Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors, effective immediately.

The organization will continue to operate the public presence of both the tourism and economic development programs under their respective brand names, Visit Roswell and Roswell Inc.

“Changing our name allows our organization to better and more fully reflect our scope of work while also making our mission clearer to those with whom we do business,” said Ken Davis, board of directors president for Roswell Economic Development and Tourism, Inc.

During the same meeting, the board of directors voted to update the organization’s by-laws, which will allow the creation of two new advisory committees—one for tourism and one for economic development. These committees will allow board members with interest in either or both areas to specifically support tourism or economic development initiatives.

The board also voted on new members and renewed several current members. All board members serve three-year terms. The list of 2018-2019 board members is included below; new board members are indicated with an asterisk (*):

  • Don Howard, Former Chairman and Regional CEO of Synovus—Chairman
  • Ken Davis, Renasant Bank—President
  • Lonnie Mimms, Mimms Enterprises —Vice President
  • Jeff Petrea, Georgia Power—Vice President
  • Bill Hardman, Southeast Tourism Society—Vice President
  • Nancy Tolbert-Yilmaz, Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance—Treasurer
  • Zach Henderson, A.I.A., Inc.—Honorary Chairman Emeritus
  • Anita Farley, Georgia Ensemble Theatre*
  • Alex Kaufman, Kaufman & Forman, P.C.
  • Alex Paulson, Randall-Paulson Architects
  • Branch Sinkule, Kimberly-Clark*
  • Brendan Walsh, Lehigh Homes & Development
  • Chris Nelson, Chattahoochee Nature Center
  • Christina DeVictor, Roswell Collective
  • Dave Schmit, Schmit + Associates
  • Kevin Bryant, Canton Place Development*
  • Kevin Head, Roswell First Baptist Church*
  • John Davidson, GM Innovation Center*
  • Jon-Paul Croom, WellStar North Fulton Hospital*
  • Juliette Johnson, Roswell Historical Society
  • Mark Goodman, Gas South
  • Michael Curling, New Kent Capital
  • Mike Hampton, Choate Construction
  • Pat Rains, Gate City Brewing*
  • Ron Buckley, Brixmor Property Group*
  • Ryan Pernice, RO Hospitality
  • Sunny Bailey, Naylor Hall*

“We have enjoyed a strong partnership with the City of Roswell since 1991 and are excited about the ways in which these changes will allow us to continue to grow and expand our work in the coming years,” said Davis.  

Roswell Inc’s Carisa Turner Receives Accreditation in Public Relations

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Roswell Inc’s director of public relations and communications, Carisa Turner, has received her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) through the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)—the nation’s largest professional association for public relations and communications professionals.

Of PRSA’s 30,000 members across the country, only 15% have achieved their APR.

Created in 1964, the APR is an internationally ranked accreditation program for established PR professionals, which allows them to certify professional expertise and reflect a high standard of public relations principles and ethics.

“The APR process strengthened my understanding of the essential and foundational role public relations plays in public life and made me a stronger advocate for the strategic, research-based, outcome-driven, and ethical practice of the profession,” said Carisa Turner. “I am incredibly grateful for all the support I received during this process.”

To become accredited, candidates are evaluated on their mastery of the following public relations concepts and areas of practice: 1) Research, Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Programs; 2) Applying Ethics and Law; 3) Managing Issues and Crisis Communications; 4) Understanding Communication Models, Theories, and History of the Profession; 5) Leading the Public Relations Function; and 6) Managing Relationships.

This is accomplished through both a formal panel presentation showcasing expertise and previous work experience as well as a computer-based exam. Candidates that pass both components are awarded the APR designation, which must be maintained through continued professional development.

“Carisa is a valuable part of our team, and we’re proud that she has achieved such a prestigious distinction in her industry,” said Steve Stroud, executive director of Roswell Inc. “Her accreditation not only establishes her as a leader within the PR world, but adds significant value, credibility and strength to our organization—both now and as we grow in the future.”

The APR designation is formally awarded by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), which is a partnership between nine of the major public relations organizations. PRSA is one of the members and serves as the administrator of the program.

For more information about the APR, visit

Roswell Inc’s Debra Ewing Graduates from Georgia Academy

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2017 Georgia Academy Graduates - Debra EwingRoswell Inc’s business development and outreach coordinator, Debra Ewing, graduated last month from the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, a four-month program through the State of Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs.

Created in 1993, the Academy provides training in the basics of economic and community development, plus specialized segments on business recruitment and retention, tourism product development, downtown development, planning, and other essentials for community success. In addition, the curriculum features specific leadership skills such as consensus building, ethics in public service, collaborative leadership and other segments needed for effective community leadership in economic development

“Going through this program helped me outline and better understand the important aspects of economic development,” Ewing said. “Cities and counties don’t experience isolated problems when it comes to economic development. One of the great things this program instilled in all of us was the value of collaboration – that when we work together, we become stronger as a region and more competitive on a national and international scale.”

Since its inception, the Academy has provided training for thousands of professional and non-professional economic developers around the state, and since 1998 the Academy has been offered annually in all twelve regions of the state.

“One of the goals for the multi-day regional Academies is to encourage multi-county cooperation,” says Corinne Thornton, Director of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development.  “Many times, the participants discover the issues facing their community are the same as those facing other communities in their region, and can then combine limited resources to address the issue.”

This year’s class participants represented a number of professional and non-professional economic development fields, including elected officials, public servants, business leaders, educators, and social service providers from ten counties in Region 3 Georgia. The Academy provided each of the graduates an opportunity to gain a unique understanding of the complexities of economic and community development on the local, regional, and state levels.

Ewing joins 10 other Academy graduates from Fulton County this year: Chandra Farley, Emily Giordano, Robert Ross, Dawn Price, Robert Hughes, Sara Saxner, Lauren Price, Trudy Smith, Hattie Portis-Jones, and Bianca Howard.

Meet the Roswell Inc Team

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Get to know the faces of Roswell’s economic development organization.

To learn more, check out the one-on-one interviews below.

Steve Stroud

Steve Stroud

Executive Director

Carisa Turner

Carisa Turner

Director of Communications & Public Relations

Debra Ewing

Debra Ewing

Business Development & Outreach Coordinator

Ashley Allen

Ashley Allen

Communications & Admin Coordinator

Stephanie Robertson

Stephanie Robertson

Program & Event Coordinator

Thank You (And some great news!)

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stroud_headshot-1Most of you have heard me say, “It’s always a great day to do business in Roswell” – and that statement rings even more true today.

We are thrilled to share that – at last night’s city council meeting – Mayor and Council approved (4-3) our organization’s full funding request. We are grateful for this vote and for the opportunity to continue building upon our work in the coming year.

However, what’s really on my mind more than anything this morning is the overwhelming gratitude I feel for each and every one of you. All of us at Roswell Inc were completely blown away by the amount of support we’ve received over the past couple weeks.

Thank you for writing letters. Thank you for speaking on our behalf. Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for rallying in support of a stronger business community.

Your kind words and stories of how we’ve impacted your business have been wonderful and powerful to hear. They have reminded us why we do what we do – and they’ve left us feeling reinvigorated with a stronger and even deeper sense of purpose and passion.

But more than that, your words have left us humbled.

We feel honored that we get to wake up every day and work toward our vision of making Roswell the best place in the region for innovative and community-minded businesses and entrepreneurs.

That’s what drives all of us at Roswell Inc – helping business owners like you succeed.

So, from all of us at Roswell Inc, thank you. We are excited for what’s ahead in the coming year!

What’s the Opportunity Zone Tax Credit?

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Roswell Opportunity ZoneOur recent Annual Business Survey showed that 62% of respondents were not familiar with Roswell’s job tax credit called the Opportunity Zone. Based on that data, we thought this would be a great time to provide some fresh information about this incentive and how it works.

The Opportunity Zone is a state incentive program available to local governments that apply to have an area of their community designated as an Opportunity Zone to encourage redevelopment and revitalization in certain older commercial and industrial areas.

Roswell’s Opportunity Zone is one of the largest in the state and is available to any Roswell business located within the zone – whether you are a new business or have been around for 20+ years.

Here’s how it works:

  • If your business hires at least two new employees in one year, your company is able to receive a $3,500 tax credit per new job created for up to five years.
  • There is no maximum limit on the number of new jobs created that can take advantage of the tax credit.
  • Your business must be registered in Roswell and be located within the boundary of the Opportunity Zone to qualify – View the Opportunity Zone Map here
  • The job credit is used against 100% of Georgia income tax liability and withholding tax.
  • You can only apply for the tax credit through 2020. (The five-year credit, itself, can extend past 2020.)

Many of you indicated in the survey that you anticipate hiring additional employees in the coming year.

If you are one of those businesses, and you are located in the Opportunity Zone, make sure to contact us to learn more about how to take advantage of this incentive! You can email Debra Ewing, our Business Outreach & Development Coordinator, at

You can also learn more about the program and apply through the City of Roswell’s website.

Study Indicates Strong Demand for Hotel on Historic Town Square

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Steve Stroud

Steve Stroud

Executive Director

Earlier this month, we released the results of a hotel feasibility study we commissioned for our city, which served to confirm what all of us who live and work in Roswell have known for quite some time – that our community needs to increase our city’s quality hotel options for both business and tourism travelers alike.

Back in the fall of 2016, we hired Atlanta-based hotel consulting firm The Highland Group to conduct the study for us. Over several months, the group completed site analysis throughout the city, interviews with competitive hotels (both in Roswell and in neighboring cities), analysis of competitive hotel data, and interviews with some of our community’s key stakeholders. These included our city’s largest employers, which supply the largest amount of business travelers to our area.

The study concluded there is strong demand in Roswell for a business-friendly hotel in the Historic District. The report recommends a 90-room hotel be developed as part of a new mixed use development on the property adjacent to Founders Square, where Haigwood Studios is located, that would also contain retail, residential and office space.

Below are some of the key findings from the study:

  • Business travelers are the primary source of demand at the best quality hotels in Roswell, and there is a very limited supply of acceptable options.
  • Doubletree is the market leader in Roswell. When it’s full, business visitors usually choose to stay in Alpharetta rather than in other hotels in Roswell.
  • Because business travelers consistently stay in neighboring cities, Roswell is losing tax revenue to neighboring cities that would otherwise be collected by the city.
  • Corporate demand in Roswell is projected to increase by an annual average rate of 4.2 percent from 2016 to 2023, reflecting the proposed hotel supply expansion.
  • Neighboring cities are increasing hotel options, including six hotels proposed or under construction in Alpharetta.

We believe adding a hotel to this area is essential to the health of our city’s business community and our overall economic competitiveness, which is why the effort is one of our priorities at Roswell Inc.

In addition to supporting our economic strength, we also know its location will help meet the high demand we have from tourism. In particular, this location would be a convenient option for those staying in our city for weddings, with its proximity to numerous event and wedding venues in the Historic District.

“Visitors often ask us where they can stay in the Historic District and are disappointed when we tell them there isn’t a hotel within walking distance to the square,” said Dotty Etris, executive director of Visit Roswell GA, the city’s tourism program. “We believe getting a hotel in this area is incredibly important to the future of both tourism and economic development in Roswell.”

Our next steps at Roswell Inc include taking this data and working in partnership with local developers, property owners and hotel operators to attract the right project for this area.

Read this piece on the Alpharetta-Roswell Herald.

A Response to East Roswell Economic Development Discussions

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roswell_inc-266With the recent closings of Target, Kohl’s, Rack Room Shoes and a variety of other retailers in Roswell, we know there is growing concern over the future of retail and overall economic development in the city, with a particular concern for East Roswell.

As a longtime Roswell resident and 30-year business entrepreneur in this city, I am likewise disappointed by these recent announcements. However, I also find myself excited by the opportunity this creates for us to cast vision for what East Roswell could become in the future.

As many of you know, what’s happening to retail in Roswell is not isolated to our city – it’s happening across the nation. The demand for traditional retail is decreasing rapidly, as the market for online shopping continues to grow. This, alongside the continued trend toward mixed-used development, has become a major game-changer.

This shift in consumer behavior has been causing waves in the industry for several years and is set to completely transform the way retail looks 5 to 10 years from now. It’s also caused major retailers, from Target to Macy’s to Walgreens, to completely rethink their business models. While stores that can’t sustain a profit are closing, CEOs are brainstorming ways for their companies to adapt to the new environment and changing consumer.

People often ask me if that means traditional brick-and-mortar shops will become a thing of the past.

The overwhelming majority of industry experts say no.

However, there is a growing understanding that to remain competitive in the new retail environment, stores and shopping districts will need to offer something consumers can’t get on their phones – a shopping experience.

Consumers are increasingly desiring experience-driven shopping areas like Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market in Atlanta and the downtown areas in Woodstock and Lawrenceville. These destination retail concepts are what most industry leaders forecast as the future for non-online retail.

How does Roswell adapt?

Last month, Roswell Inc was invited to participate in two public forums about the future of economic development along the Holcomb Bridge Road Corridor. The discussions at each focused on trends in commercial development and retail and also started conversations between city leaders and the community about how we can work together to respond to the changing market.

At Roswell Inc, our core mission is to ensure a strong, competitive economic and business climate for the City of Roswell. We do that through keeping up with market trends; working in partnership with business owners, entrepreneurs, city leaders, residents and property developers; and keeping a pulse on what’s happening in the community.

As these discussions continue in the coming months, our commitment to each of you is that we will continue to work diligently as a leader and catalyst for smart economic development that aligns with both the culture and character of Roswell and the demands of the market.

What does that look like?

Currently, our Roswell Inc team is finalizing the details to begin a comprehensive retail study for Roswell. This will focus on the needs for the city as a whole as well as help us develop a plan for the distinct, unique retail needs and opportunities for each part of our community.

We are also working closely with city staff on a proposal to begin a study along Holcomb Bridge Road, east of GA 400. This will help map out future redevelopment in East Roswell and identify what types of projects make sense for the community and the market. It will also work in tandem with the Highway 9 study.

-As both these projects progress, there will be opportunities for public input along the way – whether through surveys, focus groups, town hall meetings, etc. Your voice is an important part of this process, and we encourage you to stay involved.

Roswell Raises the Bar

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Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 9.31.01 PMThe Mayor’s State of the City presentation illuminated a bright and exciting future for the City of Roswell. Unemployment rates have dropped to the lowest in the state, and crime is notably low . Business is booming, the parks are in peak condition and the historic district is flourishing. Economic development efforts are facilitating opportunity and growth at unprecedented rates and the Mayor contributes much of this success to the creation of Roswell Inc.

“Roswell has never been in better condition than it is right now,” Mayor Wood said confidently. “One of the best decisions my council ever made was to create Roswell Inc.”

“We work with businesses throughout the City of Roswell, from the one man operations all the way to corporations like GM with over 1300 employees,” Roswell Inc Executive Director Steve Stroud said.

Success in Roswell has lead to a significant population increase as more and more companies and families come to put down roots. The rapid growth has some Roswell residents concerned, as the demand continues to exceed the supply as far as space. Increased density raises some concerns about traffic and cost of living.

“The Atlanta population will continue to grow and come our way,” Wood said. “Change will create anxiety and opposition, but also opportunity. Our biggest threat today is complacency.”

In his presentation, Mayor Wood laid out many of Roswell’s current and future projects, including but not limited to the new elementary school, the new water plant, an extension of the river trail to the Chattahoochee Nature Center and multiple transportation improvements currently under way.

To learn more about the Mayor’s State of the City event, watch the highlights here.