Adairsville Community Development Director Richard Osborne cites at least two major influences for pursuing a management position in municipal government.
“My dad was an elected local official — he was a district attorney and a judge — and his public service led me to look at a career in the public sector,” the 41-year-old said.
The other is his old boss at the City of Cartersville.
“I had a great mentor in Randy Mannino,” he said. “He has been a great community leader and a great city department head — and he just inspired me to look towards a management position.”
Osborne, who has been Adairsville’s community development director for about six months, knows Bartow County well, having worked with the City of Cartersville for about a decade. In between the two stints, he spent a few years working in Pickens County. However, it wasn’t long before Bartow beckoned him back via that opening in Adairsville last year.
Each morning, he commutes 45 minutes from his home in Jasper to Adairsville City Hall. If you can’t find him there, you’ll probably spot him at his favorite hangout in town, the General Store and Mercantile on the Square.
While one might consider his position an administrative one, Osborne considers his job to be about much more than ordinance amendments and zoning requests.
In fact, in some ways, you might even call Osborne something of a professional wish-fulfiller.
“One of my favorite things to do is talk to people, and help people achieve their dreams,” Osborne said. “Anything from the littlest thing, like adding a bathroom and a bedroom to a house, all the way up to a million-square-foot industrial building.”
Name: Richard Osborne
Current City of Residence: Jasper
Hometown: Powder Springs
Occupation: Adairsville Community Development Director
High School: McEachern High
College: Wake Forest (undergraduate); Tennessee (Master’s of Public Administration)
DAILY TRIBUNE NEWS: Can you walk us through what you do on a daily basis as a community development director?
RICHARD OSBORNE: As community development director, I help coordinate the development process from anything like rezoning cases and variance cases to plan review, permitting, licensing. So it really does go from anything like somebody getting a home business license all the way up to the biggest large employer, working with them on expansions and things like that.
DTN: What was the transition from working for the City of Cartersville to working for the City of Adairsville like?
RO: I like that in Cartersville and Adairsville, there’s a lot of hometown, community pride. And that will go from anything from the high schools to the community leadership and desire for downtown improvements. Even though they’re different sized-places, one of the things I love about Cartersville, Adairsville and Bartow County is they’ve got great community leadership and they are stable and moving forward with growth and the desire to maintain quality of life for existing residents.
DTN: When it comes to attracting economic investments, what do you consider Adairsville’s biggest assets to be?
RO: The largest and most famous festival, the Great Locomotive Chase Festival each October, is a huge asset to the community. It’s also got great schools for the north Bartow area and it was recognized in 2018 as one of the safest places in Georgia. And you’ve got full utility service so that commercial/industrial can take advantage of the infrastructure. Also, of course, it’s got rail and interstate access.
DTN: How do you envision Adairsville’s long-term infrastructure plans, and how would this affect some of the City’s community development goals?
RO: Within the City limits, there’s still a good bit of vacant land, and the City provides most services with the exception of electric, which is provided by Georgia Power. So we have the ability to provide citizens with cost-effective water and sewer and gas. The City contracts with Republic for garbage services as well … for the individual residents in Adairsville, it is only about $11 a month for garbage service, which is very competitive.
DTN: When it comes to community development, what would you say are some of the biggest barriers for Adairsville?
RO: A good challenge that community leaders are working on is promoting economic development on the commercial side. It’s so close to Calhoun, Rome and Cartersville that people can shop and eat at other locations. But the commercial side is a growing side of Adairsville, and I think that’s a good challenge for future growth.
DTN: From a zoning and planning perspective, is there a blueprint in mind for drawing more commercial developments to Adairsville?
RO: In 2019, the mayor and city council have put downtown development as a priority by hiring the Sizemore Group out of Atlanta to coordinate the process of developing a downtown master plan, with anticipation of a phased-in approach to future projects to help improve and work with the private sector to encourage new development and redevelopment of the in-town area and the downtown area of Adairsville.
DTN: Are there any particular commercial investments the City would like to see in the years ahead?
RO: The highest traffic count corridor in the City limits is a section of Highway 140 between U.S. 41 and I-75, and there is significant potential for growth. There is both vacant lots and underutilized lots, so there’s a lot of great potential there.
DTN: Are there any hotspots for redevelopment in Adairsville the City is eying at the moment?
RO: Between U.S. 41 and downtown, there’s areas available for infill housing and redevelopment, and there’s still a good bit within the entire City limits of greenfield sites and vacant sites, so having that infrastructure and the major transportation corridors of I-75, Highway 140, U.S. 41 — as well as having rail service — that really gives Adairsville the advantage of location and having the infrastructure being ready for growth that is happening now and will continue. Of course, it’s always going to be exactly halfway between Atlanta and Chattanooga, which puts it on the radar for a significant number of prospects for economic development.
DTN: With major industrial developments like Ashley Capital’s Georgia North projects and a 750,000 square foot warehouse just south of the Bartow County/Gordon County line in the works, how do you see such large-scale investments impacting the City’s overall community development plans?
RO: Currently, there’s a significant amount of industrial and residential growth, and industrial growth may be growing at the fastest pace of industrial, residential and commercial. And having that draw of additional employees, there’s going to be a good demand in the future for additional residential and commercial, and hopefully it’s going to benefit both new and existing residents.
DTN: For the foreseeable future, what do you consider Adairsville’s overall community development strategy? What kind of growth do you anticipate, and what’s the general plan for managing that anticipated growth?
RO: Promoting and encouraging partnerships with the private sector, so that it’s not a publicly-driven model, but it’s more of a partnership model, encouraging both in-town and downtown redevelopment, as well as on the outskirts of the City, industrial and residential development … it’s really just working well to make sure that we’re thinking, we’re mindful, of the existing residents as well as being responsive to new development and redevelopment. So it’s making sure that we keep in touch and be as responsible as we can.