Cochran mayor looking to build up infrastructure to attract businesses

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COCHRAN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Bleckley County leaders say building up the county and city’s infrastructure is the first step in bringing more jobs to the area.

When Butler Brown moved his store from Warner Robins to Cochran, he didn’t think twice. 

"We still have loyal customers that come in and gets things framed," Brown, who owns Butler Brown Gallery, said. 

For 45 years, he has taught, painted, and cherished art. 

Brown says attracting big business to town is good for him — more people have time to walk into his shop.

"It would help bring in more jobs and make smaller towns like Cochran and Hawkinsville and so forth, and all the small towns around here," Brown said.

Cochran Mayor Michael Stoy couldn’t agree more. 

"As a community, we haven’t been that active in the past. We are looking at doing several restructurings to try to put a greater emphasis on job creation and attracting business and industry," Stoy said. 

During November’s elections, Cochran and Bleckley County passed a "Freeport Exemption" rule, essentially lowering property taxes for big businesses and manufacturers in the county. 

Stoy calls the move a game changer. 

"Since we’ve passed the Freeport, we’ve actually had two or three people contact us about possibly coming into the area," Stoy said. 

While still in the early stages, Stoy is looking to be more proactive with upgrades to the city’s industrial park, as well the water and sewer lines — enticing companies to come to town. 

"We’ve been more or less passive in our approach. Things that have come have, more or less, dropped in our lap," Stoy said. 

He says bringing a Walmart to town last year was a great move — it means more tax dollars into the area — but filling abandoned buildings where great businesses were would be even better.

Brown is all for it too. 

"I know that big businesses balk at it. There not real fond at paying more taxes, of course none of us are," Brown said. 

He adds it will take a lot of work and a stroke of luck to make it happen.

Mayor Stoy says it will take about $11 million dollars from federal and state funding to complete the infrastructure project. 

He’s also looking to find someone to spearhead bringing businesses back to Cochran. He hopes to have that position filled this spring. 

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 311 Skyler joined the 41 NBC News Team in April 2013. He anchors the news at 6 p.m. and also covers stories going on throughout the day. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb right outside of Atlanta. Before heading to Middle Georgia, Skyler worked as a stage manager for WSB- TV in Atlanta. Skyler graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Multimedia Communication. He went to school initially to be an architect, but one step inside of the student radio station changed everything. While at Georgia Southern, he was exposed to radio and television and became the Program Director of the student radio station and was a part of a team that received a Southeast Regional student Emmy for their work on the program "Inside Georgia Southern Football." Skyler anchored and reported for Georgia Southern University's "Eagle News." There he covered the 2010 midterm elections live as well as reported on stories in the community. In the Spring 2012, Skyler interned for Clear Channel in Los Angeles, California. Skyler is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. In his free time, you can find Skyler watching the latest movies and reading up on all things in Hollywood. He also loves spending time with his family and friends and finding inspirational quotes. He loves telling stories about politics, tax dollars at work in the community, and highlighting people and business who don’t normally get the spotlight. If you have any story ideas, email Skyler at shenry@41nbc.com.