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Revitalizing, supporting rural Georgia communities
burns jon 2015
State Rep. Jon Burns


Last week, I shared how Georgians across the state are serving others during this challenging year. This week, I want to share an important initiative created by House Bill 73, which passed in 2017. HB 73 created Rural Revitalization Zones. These Zones provide tax incentives for Georgians who invest in designated rural communities and contribute to certain revitalization efforts. District 159 is lucky to have Springfield represented in the communities that have been selected to participate in the program.

This program allows businesses and investors to receive state income tax credits for economic activities in these communities, including job creation, downtown property investment, and property renovation. A “revitalization zone” is defined under Georgia law as a geographic region in need of economic revitalization as designated by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the Department of Economic Development (DEcD). 

Both DCA and DEcD are responsible for reviewing applications for communities who wish to enroll in the program, and the DCA administers the program. For a community to be eligible for the program, the city or county applying must have a population less than 15,000 and demonstrate economic distress through the community’s poverty rate, downtown area vacancy, or blight. There are additional requirements to participate in the program, including a concentration of historic commercial structures that are at least 50 years old and a strategic plan showing that the community has done prior research to show the likelihood of the program’s success. Applications for the program are submitted through the DCA’s website, and selected communities participate in the program for five years.

The program has instituted three types of income tax credits that Georgians can use to stimulate investment, job creation, and economic development. None of the tax credits are available without jobs being created in the targeted community. They also cannot be used in conjunction with any other state tax credit program or transferred. These tax credits are the  “Jobs Tax Credit,” the “Investment Credit,” and the “Rehabilitation Credit.”

The “Jobs Tax Credit” (“JTC”) is given to a certified business for five years if two new full-time jobs are created and maintained by the business. The “Investment Credit” can be used by a certified investor who purchases and develops real estate in a targeted community. The investor must show that the property has an ongoing commercial benefit. The investor shows this by showing that an eligible business is located within the property and qualifies to receive the JTC. The investor can also show that a qualified company is located on the property and maintains a minimum of two full-time jobs for each year the credit is claimed. Finally, the “Rehabilitation Credit” is given to a certified investor or business if they have expenditures that are “qualified rehabilitation expenditures.” A qualified rehabilitation expenditure is a labor or material cost associated with the rehabilitation of a DCA-certified investor property that complies with state minimum standard codes and applicable local codes. The business must maintain at least two full-time jobs for each year of the credit. The investor or business must also meet minimum historic preservation standards identified by the Department of Natural Resources’ Historic Preservation Division to be qualified for the credit.

This program has demonstrated magnificent results in several cities.  The City of Springfield is a participant, and we will focus on its remarkable results in a forthcoming article.  There have been four significant projects completed in downtown Bainbridge, with three additional projects close to completion. One of the businesses in downtown Bainbridge has created 30 jobs, invested $116,600, and spent $462,800 on rehabilitation. Another company created six new jobs, invested $60,000, and spent $136,000 on rehabilitation. As the General Assembly heads back into Session in January, we will continue to prioritize investment in and support for rural Georgia because the success of one part of Georgia benefits all Georgians.

This weekend, remember to make a BIG impact on the small businesses in our community by supporting them on Small Business Saturday! Thank you all for allowing me to represent Georgia House District 159. It is truly an honor to work for you and this great state. If you have any feedback, do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), email, or engage on Facebook. If you would like to receive email updates, please visit my website to sign up for my newsletter or email me.

Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House majority leader.