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Georgia approves opportunity zone in city

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- After nearly a year in the works, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission announced Thursday that the Georgia Department of Community Affairs has approved the city's new opportunity zone.

The new opportunity zone, which comprises much of the central district of Albany -- including downtown -- provides job tax credits of $3,500 per job, when a minimum of two new jobs are created, to legitimate businesses within the zone. Job tax credits may be claimed for up to five years as long as the jobs are maintained.

"The opportunity zone designation creates incentives that make our underdeveloped central district more attractive to businesses," ADEDC President Ted Clem said. "The threshold of two new jobs created regardless of industry provides flexibility by not limiting the size or types of businesses that are eligible for the benefits."

Downtown Albany Manager Aaron Blair echoed Clem's sentiments, stressing the added advantages for businesses to open up shop downtown.

"This designation is another key to enabling downtown to attract business and thus increase the number of shoppers and workers," Blair said, "and ultimately assist in shaping the economic future of downtown and the city of Albany."

To be eligible for the opportunity zone designation, an area must display pervasive property of 15 percent or more; underdevelopment; general distress; blight, and must be within an urban redevelopment plan area or state enterprise zone.

Tax credits will be extended to legitimate businesses within the zone that met the job creation criteria in 2010.

The EDC worked closely with the Southwest Regional Commission and the city of Albany in preparing the documentation for presentation to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which approved the new opportunity zone designation that is valid from 2010 to 2020.