Jobs, business park top goals for office of economic development
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@cherokeetribune.com
February 04, 2011 12:00 AM | 3568 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From left, Marshall Day, chairman for the Cherokee Office of Economic Development; Ashley Holcomb, board member for the Development Authority; and Sotir Christopher of Christopher Planning and Engineering look over the blue prints for a proposed business park development off of Highway 92 in Acworth.<br>Cherokee Tribune/Todd Hull
From left, Marshall Day, chairman for the Cherokee Office of Economic Development; Ashley Holcomb, board member for the Development Authority; and Sotir Christopher of Christopher Planning and Engineering look over the blue prints for a proposed business park development off of Highway 92 in Acworth.
Cherokee Tribune/Todd Hull
slideshow
Jobs, jobs and more jobs are the top priority of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development.

This year, the office is focused on its white-collar job recruitment strategy and the development of its Highway 92 business park, President Misti Martin said.

The planned business park's 100-acre site at James Dupree Lane in southwest Cherokee County is a prime location to attract a "diverse" number of companies, Mrs. Martin said.

Along with creating a master plan for the site, the office also is working on plans for infrastructure improvements, which will be completed in the next 12 months.

The office, which recently adopted a new logo to improve its branding, is "already marketing the property to potential businesses."

The acreage for the park was expanded to 100 last year with the purchase of an additional 47 acres by the county government using sales tax revenues. Mrs. Martin credits the county Board of Commissioners and County Manager Jerry Cooper with making the $1.9 million purchase happen.

"I'm very proud for what they've been able to accomplish," she added.

Of those 100 acres, 53 have been declared an Opportunity Zone by the state Department of Community Affairs.

An Opportunity Zone is a developmental tool created in 2004 that allows local governments to provide tax incentives for economic development and revitalization of pockets of poverty.

Benefits include eligibility for a $3,500 tax credit per each new job created, the use of job tax credits against 100 percent of income tax liability and withholding taxes and the expansion of the definition of business enterprise to include businesses of any kind.

Mrs. Martin said the Opportunity Zone is "driving" activity in the park, noting in the last month she has heard from numerous prospective businesses about the site.

Part of the office's white-collar job recruitment effort is the completion of the workforce analysis it began last year.

Commuters were surveyed to learn what kinds of jobs they're leaving the county for, what the salaries are and if they would work in Cherokee if those jobs were here. About 785 responses have been received.

Mrs. Martin said she will present the results to the office's board of directors during its meeting on March 28.

The data will help the office determine what types of businesses it should focus on recruiting.

"That could bring a lot of benefits to Cherokee County," Marshall Day, chairman of the office's board of directors, said of the data.

Promoting its Existing Industry Incentive Program also is on the office's agenda for 2011.

The program, which is designed to encourage and support local industrial expansion, allows for property taxes on certain improvements to be phased in over a number of years. The tax incentive applies to the value of new or reconditioned equipment or capital improvements.

The initiative last year generated more than $16 million in investments and 135 new jobs in the county.

The office also is striving to earn the Camera Ready designation for the community.

The Camera Ready program, part of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, is given to Georgia communities interested in attracting movie and television production.

To qualify, the office needs to provide an inventory of unique sites and buildings to the state Department of Economic Development. The inventory would be used by scouts searching for filming locations.

Ms. Martin said the office would partner with the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, Cherokee County Historical Society and local governments to develop the site list.

The designation, she said, could spell dollars for Cherokee, as those involved in the industry also would spend money at county hotels and restaurants.

Day said it's been tough for the office to recruit new businesses, as the economy was "decimated" by the halt in residential construction.

"Last year was challenging due to the economy," Day said, adding the office's staff and board of directors are committed to promoting the county's prime real estate to companies. "It's all about jobs."
Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides