Rockdale County CEO Richard Oden explains the blueprint for a 200,000-square-foot civic center.
Rockdale County Chairman and CEO Richard Oden has big dreams of breaking ground on a 200,000-square-foot civic center and auditorium in Rockdale, bringing jobs and boosting tourism in east metro Atlanta by the end of 2016. Oden hopes the civic center will become a magnet for global trade shows, concerts and other cultural events by the end of 2016.
Oden already has a concept rendition of what Rockdale could look like with a civic center, office complex, five-star hotels and restaurants. He says the civic center would benefit the entire East corridor of metro Atlanta. Now, Oden is on a mission to get investors who will turn that concept into a reality.
“This has been a conversation I have continually brought up since I was first elected,” said Oden, who was elected in 2008 and re-elected for another four-year term in 2012. “Last year, I was invited to Taiwan by their government. I showed them what I’ve been talking about here. I showed them the
Last summer, Oden was one of nine people who took a 10-day economic development trip to Taiwan, where he promoted a potential partnership with the Taiwanese government and shared the benefits of investing in a civic center in Rockdale County. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office funded the trip.
Oden, who represented the Southeast region on the trip, says if companies in Taiwan come to Conyers for trade shows, they will shop, eat and stay at hotels in Rockdale.
“Right now, it is a work in progress, but we are embarking on becoming a sister city and county with Taipei and Taichung. Right now, their companies’ host trade shows and other events in Chicago and Silicon Valley in California. We want them to add Conyers and Rockdale to the list,” said Oden. “I am in constant communication with Taiwan Mayor Jason Hu, his dignitaries and
Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Fred Boscarino says a civic center could mean a economic boost in Rockdale.
“If such a structure with easy access from I-20 were built, it would certainly attract small conventions and other meetings. A civic center could mean an increase in tourists, and thus would reflect an increase in tourism,” said Boscarino. “It is a good idea, but you have to consider all the costs associated, such as the upkeep on such a large facility. When private investors are ready to put in their money, the public side can help make a dream like that come true.”
Oden has his sights set on the north side of Interstate I-20 inside the Sigman Road corridor for the civic center. He calls it the “opportunity zone,” where 1,600 acres is sitting untouched.
“This passageway offers significant local, state and federal incentives for redevelopment in this area. One of my goals is to always find ways to raise sales tax, instead of residents paying the