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Dawsonville not in running for car plant

Company chairman: Report ‘inappropriate’

POSTED: May 13, 2009 10:46 p.m.

DAWSONVILLE — Recent talks that a high performance police car automaker was considering a site in Dawsonville may have been wishful thinking on the part of a local real estate agent.

William Santana Li, chairman and chief executive officer of Carbon Motors, said the announcement was "highly inappropriate," and no discussions have taken place about a possible site in Dawsonville.

"There is one site in Georgia we are focused on and that’s Braselton," Li said Monday afternoon. "We’re not looking at Dawsonville. There have been no meetings, no discussions. There never were and at this rate there never will be."

Li said Carbon Motors could decide on a site by the end of July.

"I don’t have time for this, and I don’t appreciate it," he said.

Carolyn Cantrell made a presentation to the Dawsonville City Council last week, saying she was attempting to woo the automaker to a site across Ga. 183 from the Elliott Racing Complex.

Cantrell, who could not be reached for comment this week, also facilitated the land sale between the developer of a proposed motorsports park and Ernie Elliott on Duck Thurmond Road.

She told council last week the property was ideal for the automaker due to its proximity to Elliott’s airport and to Atlanta Motorsports Park, which the City Council approved last month.

She estimated the plant’s overall economic impact at $3 billion over 10 years, with as many as 2,000 employees by the time the plant reaches full capacity.

Dawsonville Mayor Joe Lane Cox said Tuesday it would have been nice to have the plant in Dawsonville, but he was "just glad they’re wanting to stay in Georgia."

"This was brought to us," Cox said. "We didn’t go out and pursue it. We let [Cantrell] speak last week, because like I said then, I wanted to get this started right, with the facts up front, so people would know what’s going on.

Councilwoman Linda Grant echoed Cox’s sentiments.

"Hopefully, by Dawsonville being brought up in the conversation, we will get some companies that will come here and create new jobs. We have so many people, and so many youth, that need work."

While it may not include Carbon Motors, motorsports park developer Jeremy Porter said industry will follow the site.

Late last week, Porter said he had confirmation that three automotive companies were preparing to relocate to Dawsonville.

"Those three include one major company in the motor world that’s willing to relocate its headquarters to Atlanta Motorsports Park," he said.

Porter said two motorsports companies in the Sugar Hill area were interested in relocating to Dawsonville.

Steve Holder, planning director for the city, said he has not heard from any specific businesses.

Preliminary estimates by the Development Authority of Dawson County indicated the motorsports park would be an economic stimulator for the area, with other like industry following suit.

According to Porter, legendary Formula One track architects, Tilke, has agreed to design the local course.

"That’s huge," Porter said. "They are responsible for nearly every modern-era Formula One track designed in the last 10 years. By partnering with the foremost track designer, AMP has taken further steps to ensure we will stand out as North America’s premier facility for motorsports enthusiasts."

Porter said he continues to talk with other automotive companies that would also fit in well with the motorsports park.

"Others will follow and are paying a lot more attention now that we have the zoning to move forward," he said.



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