By Maria Saporta
In a luncheon talk to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal told county leaders that he would make it easier for them to receive state loans for transportation projects.
The Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, an arm of the State Road and Tollway Authority, has been available to counties that want to improve their roadways.
But the bank has had a rather onerous requirement for local participation before counties can access those funds. The state has set aside $33.1 million for this program.
“Not one single loan has been approved,” Deal told the commissioners before announcing that he is making changes to the loan program.
“The participation requirement is being eliminated,” Deal said, adding that the Infrastructure Bank will allow funding for both maintenance and resurfacing. “Hope that’s good for you.”
The audience of county commissioners from across the state answered with warm applause.
The governor also spoke of other ways he hopes to partner with the counties across the state.
He mentioned the Regional Economic Business Assistance grant program, which has helped sweeten the pot to get companies to move major operations to Georgia. He said he was increasing that fund by about $5 million to a bit more than $11 million.
He also said he is adding another $20 million to the One Georgia Authority, which provides incentives for economic development projects in the rural parts of the state.
The governor said the state faces particular challenges to make sure it remains competitive. Georgia must be prepared to handle the growth of 4.6 million new residents by 2030, and that will require investments in transportation, water and education.
“We have to invest now to be prepared for those businesses that are going to come several years down the road,” the governor said.
In closing, Deal told county commissioners: “There’s a spirit of cooperation, not only with the legislative branch, but also with our local elected officials.”