Invest Clayton confirmed at its May 9 meeting that it is ending its relationship with Roman United as of Thursday, May 11.

Board Chair Regina Deloach sent a letter dated March 1 to the company, with copies to members of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners.

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In that letter, Deloach wrote:

Dear Mr. Roman:

Roman United has failed to perform satisfactorily in several key areas required under the Development Agreement between and among Roman United, Clayton County, and the Development Authority of Clayton County. Consequently, the Authority is terminating the Development Agreement and related Ground Lease Agreement effective May 11, 2023.

Roman United has failed to provide adequate evidence of funding, particularly in light of comments made by the individual who signed the financing letter indicating he was not aware that the project was moving forward and that the conditional commitment financing was not binding. Roman United has failed to meet the deadlines set forth in Section 3.03. Among other things, Roman United did not obtain written approval of an Approved Lender, close on a construction loan with an Approved Lender, deposit required equity with an Approved Lender, or obtain all necessary government approvals and permits for the property by January 1, 2023.

The Clayton Crescent has filed an Open Records Request for the development agreement, ground lease agreement, and financing letter for the project.

Executive Director Larry Vincent told The Clayton Crescent that it was too soon to say whether Invest Clayton might take Roman United to court. However, during the meeting, Vincent said that a press release had been drafted and would be sent out.

In other board news, Former Tax Commissioner Terry Baskin was elected secretary-treasurer.

New board members Donald Craddock and C. Harrison Braddy pushed for a county workforce development board. Randy Burton said the county’s population was too small and that a county has to have at least 500,000 people to get its own development board.

Craddock asked how much American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money was left. Vincent said “about half” of the $1.175 million had been allotted to Goodwill of North Georgia, Ascension, and Construction Ready.

Both Craddock and Braddy seemed eager to align the board with the City of Atlanta for workforce development purposes.

Braddy, a minister, drew attention from the press in the wake of Hurricane Katrina after he hired and bussed dozens of homeless Atlantans for the cleanup effort, then said he was unable to pay them because other subcontractors going up the chain had not paid him yet. At the time, Braddy told, his nonprofit, Workforce Career Development Corporation, was engaged in finding work for homeless men, and that he had spent $65,000 of his own money on two school buses and housing for the workers: “My mission is strictly outreach.”

Craddock, who is also known as “Dee Cee” and hosts a shock-jock-style Internet radio program promoting various elected officials aligned with the Victor Hill-Mitzi Bickers political machine and attacking Hill’s perceived enemies, including Clayton County Chairman Jeff Turner. (Transparency note: Craddock also has gone after The Clayton Crescent’s editor, Robin Kemp.) Craddock told WABE’s DorMiya Vance last year that he was involved with rehousing about 200 residents of the Forest at Columbia public housing development.

Vincent noted that Clayton County is “well-represented” on the Atlanta Regional Commission, while Deloach explained to the new members that Invest Clayton has established pipeline partnerships, including with Clayton County Public Schools.

Braddy also advocated for a “private” meeting between Invest Clayton board members and the Clayton County Board of Commissioners. He likened it to a “date” and suggested that the two boards could work out any issues between them. Baskin asked about the presence of a quorum for each board, which might run afoul of the Georgia Open Meetings Act if any business were discussed. Michelle Youngblood, who is the attorney for Invest Clayton, quickly replied that this would be a social engagement.

Board members commented that there could be a program involving dressing up and team-building, and that (of course) no discussion of county politics or business would take place. Board chair Regina Deloach suggested the meeting could take place at Arts Clayton, probably June 8 between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., if the site were available. Braddy said he had sent individual love notes to each BOC member, asking them, “Do you like me? Check yes or no.” He added that he had not heard back from everyone yet, but that he wanted to get all members’ responses.

The board also discussed several codenamed projects in broad terms, including a project near the airport that also involved discussions with District 2 Commissioner Gail Hambrick.

Toto, the bathroom fixture manufacturer headquartered on Morrow, is applying for a bond to expand, but Youngblood said the paperwork wasn’t in yet.

Members present were Deloach, Michelle Fuqua, Dr. Mark Christmas, Randy Burton, Craddock, Braddy, Baskin, and Emma Godbee. Absent was Phong Duong. Also present were Vincent and Youngblood, as well as at least one staffer from Invest Clayton.

Media present included Robin Kemp of The Clayton Crescent and Dawn White of 11 Alive, along with a cameraman.

Otherwise, the meeting had no audience.

Invest Clayton does not have a dedicated livestream of its public meetings. The Clayton Crescent is making this meeting’s video available to the public via our YouTube channel as a public service.

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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