DALTON, Ga. -- Officials hope a state program will provide higher job tax credits for businesses looking to locate in the county's industrial site, as well as future redevelopment areas.
County commissioners voted Friday to create an urban redevelopment agency as part of the Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority. The new agency will apply for opportunity zone status for the county's industrial park on the South Bypass, said development authority Chairman Chuck Dobbins.
The opportunity zone program, handled by the state's Department of Community Affairs, provides increased job tax credits for business development in areas with an overall poverty level of 15 percent or more.
"To qualify, an area has to be considered to be underdeveloped or less-than-favorably developed," Mr. Dobbins said. "The entire purpose of a redevelopment area is to improve the area and bring new development opportunities."
Businesses in opportunity zones can receive a tax credit of $3,500 per job, applying the credit to income taxes and withholdings for up to 10 years. Whitfield County can now only offer an income tax credit of $750 per job, Mr. Dobbins said.
The first step is to apply for the opportunity-zone designation with the industrial park, but the agency will consider other sites in the future, he said.
"I anticipate the community will decide at a future time that there will be other opportunity zones that might be created," he said.
County Administrator Robert McLeod said the industrial park is located in an area slated for commercial development in the county's comprehensive growth plan. The area should qualify as an opportunity zone because some nearby properties are in "tough shape," he said.
County Commission Chairman Mike Babb said the county continues to look at ways to bring economic development and jobs to the county.
"As we find more tools, we'll have more meetings like this," he said. "We're trying to position ourselves so, when a company looks at Whitfield County, we have multiple optional incentives that they could look at."
He said the county still hopes to find out mid-September if an unnamed business will occupy the commerce park.
The County Commission must vote on the opportunity zone application before it's sent to the Department of Community Affairs, Mr. Dobbins said.