For the over 55 years I have lived in Augusta, I have seen many changes and much progress: but I have also seen where the local politics and those in power have impeded growth and development due to their shortsightedness, incompetence or personal agendas.
One of the many issues I have been thinking about lately is the impact Fort Gordon’s Cyber Command will have on the area. Many, if not most of our leaders and even citizens are saying that this new command will have a positive influence on the growth and vitality of Augusta/Richmond County area.
They may be right up to a point, but I think the command will have a positive influence more so on the surrounding area — primarily Columbia County (mostly Evans) than on Augusta/Richmond County.
I say this because, to begin with, most of the growth in the past few years has obviously been in Columbia County, with minimal growth in the Augusta/Richmond area. And, more importantly, compare the type of growth in Evans to that of Augusta. Most of the businesses opening in Augusta are the small mom and pop type of businesses. In South Augusta, which serves a better example, it’s fast food places, car washes, donuts places. Dollar stores and Huddle House restaurants are the businesses which have been opening there.
Compare this to the businesses that have opened in Evans — major restaurants and stores offering a wide variety of goods and services. Publix is a great example. Publix has yet to open a store in South Augusta; they must be under the impression that the diet of the folks in South Augusta is limited to chicken, greens and black eye peas. The other grocery stores in South Augusta do not compare with the same store in West Augusta (for example: compare the Kroger on Washington Road with the Kroger on Deans Bridge Road).
Most of the folks coming with Cyber Command and the related support organizations will be “channeled” to Columbia County. I say channeled because I have heard that some real estate agents (and agencies) have a practice of channeling certain people and businesses to Evans, and others to South Augusta. The power and influence of the real estate business on the economic sector can be a significant factor in the way the community will develop.
I’ll admit that some businesses will be located in Augusta; Unysys is an example, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most of its employees will live and shop in Colombia County.
My main point is that we should stop fooling the general public into believing that Cyber Command will have a large impact on Richmond County. The power brokers (political and real estate folks) in Colombia County have beaten Richmond County to the feast table.
George de Baca