Chattanooga City Council could OK paying small business owners to add jobs

Chattanooga City Council could OK paying small business owners to add jobs

September 3rd, 2014 by Joy Lukachick Smith in Local Regional News

Nick Wilkinson

Nick Wilkinson

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

If the City Council gives its stamp of approval next week, Chattanooga will start paying small business owners up to $10,000 a company to add new employees.

As part of a plan Mayor Andy Berke unveiled in his state of the city address, the city hopes to help dozens of small companies and firms within the city limits grow through a $100,000 program.

"We want to create net new jobs," said Nick Wilkinson, deputy director of the city's economic and community development department. "There's always going to be a risk with being an entrepreneur or small business owner, but if we can help [them with incentives] to go make those new hires or go maybe expand their businesses through this, that's the goal."

Eligible companies must have 100 or fewer employees and must hire five or more employees in a year to full-time jobs -- 30 or more hours of work a week. Then the company must submit documents to the city to show how many employees it has hired, Wilkinson said.

Companies are reimbursed based on how many employees the company hires and their salaries. A company that pays the average living wage -- about $45,000 annually-- would receive $500 per newly hired employee.

Certain businesses will be excluded, including nightclubs, tattoo and body-piercing parlors, title loan businesses and pawnshops.

The council also will vote next week whether to give a property tax break to Van De Wiele, one of the largest manufacturers of high performing machines for the textile industry. The Belgian company wants to relocate its U.S. headquarters to Chattanooga.

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce presented a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, proposal for a 10-year incremental break on city and county taxes.