GRAD Site Certification and Economic Development in GA

Here’s our take on why the Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) certification and validation program is essential for your community. Below you will find our video and slideshow presentation on this topic, as well as the video transcript and podcast audio.


Playing in the big leagues of economic development

If your community wants to play in the big leagues of economic development and your community doesn’t have GRAD certified sites, you are likely missing out on potential opportunities! Today, in this super-fast environment where significant research is done before prospects even arrange a community visit, the need for having available sites has been taken to a new level.

In the past, simply securing a land purchase option on “the Johnson’s” 200 acre farm at the edge of town and having officials pledge adequate utilities and road improvements in time to match the prospect’s plant construction might have been successful. However, in today’s marketplace, that is no longer the case. Most site selection consultants and company real estate executives expect communities to complete all the necessary research and site investigation studies as entry level preparation.

Why GRAD is important

Proof of clear title, proper zoning, accurate market pricing and basic engineering data are prerequisites to any prospect’s interest. Community leaders should not expect consultants or company officials to come for a site visit only to get a list of promises for future action. As the old saying goes, “If you aren’t willing to invest in your community why should anyone else?”

From a purely competitive standpoint- the truth is that the GRAD sites always surface first in the state economic development site search databases, whether on the GDECD or utility websites!

In the GRAD certification process the following items are investigated, researched and/or documented and resolved:

  1. Minimum size (50 acres) quantified
  2. Utility services documented
  3. Zoning, planning, and land use control designations clarified
  4. Road and Rail accessibility identified
  5. Ownership verified
  6. Due Diligence information qualified:
    1. Wetlands and stream delineation
    2. Environmental assessments
    3. Cultural resources and archeological assessments
    4. Geological and geotechnical surveys
    5. Boundary & Topographic surveys

Communities that complete the GRAD site certification process demonstrate a clear commitment to economic development. It sends a strong message to consultants and prospects that the local leadership is committed to their community’s success and that they understand the prospect’s needs. Having a certified site also takes a community to another level in the competitive process and separates the hopefuls from the true candidates.

W&A Engineering can help your community achieve a GRAD site certification which will allow for the future development and marketing of a site as an available tract, ready for accelerated development. We are also experienced with MEGA SITE criteria for large acreage tracts and sites.

For more information on GRAD site certification or additional insight into our firm and completed projects, contact Jim Lenahan at phone number 404-803-21234 or via email Jim is a former state economic development official with involvement in several highly successful large scale projects. Don’t forget to take time and ask him about the Caterpillar project.

We look forward to your community’s success!