DCA launches Rural Zone portal today!
Communities may now apply for designation as a Rural Zone
Atlanta, GA (September 1, 2017) – The Georgia Department of Community Affairs today launched its online portal for communities to apply for a Rural Zone designation, the first step in implementation of the new rural revitalization program signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal in May. The Rural Zone program, which stems from HB73, will provide tax credit incentives to promote revitalization by encouraging investment, job creation, and economic growth in long-established business districts designated as “Rural Zones.” The Commissioners of the Department of Community Affairs and the Department of Economic Development will designate up to 10 Rural Zones per year, with benefits earned for a period of five years.
“With this program, we can focus resources on shoring up what’s really special about Georgia – the charm, history and sense of community of our small, rural towns,” said DCA Commissioner Camila Knowles. “I’m very excited about getting this program up and running, and what we are going to be able to achieve for rural downtowns.”
In order to apply for a Rural Zone designation, a community must meet the following requirements:
· Applicants must be municipalities, counties or consolidated governments with a population of 15,000 or less.
· All applicant governments must be in compliance with the state requirements regarding comprehensive planning and reporting, Service Delivery Strategy, Government Management Indicators (GOMI) Survey, and the Report of Local Government Finances as of December 1, 2017.
· Applicants must possess a concentration of historic commercial structures at least 50 years old within the targeted zone.
· Applicants must provide proof of economic distress based on poverty rate, vacancy of the downtown area, or blight.
· Applicants must have developed a master plan/strategic plan designed to assist private and public investment, as well as a feasibility study or market analysis identifying business activities that can be supported in the targeted zone.
Qualifying businesses in Rural Zones will be eligible for:
· Job Tax Credits: for the small business owner who creates jobs.
o The Job Tax Credit (JTC) will be $2,000 per new full-time equivalent job per year, up to 5 years and not to exceed $200,000 total or $40,000 per year. New full-time equivalent job means an aggregate of employee worked hours totaling 40 hours per week between two or more employees.
· Investment Credits: for the investor who purchases a building downtown, but it can only be taken when jobs are created and the job tax credit is taken.
o The Investment Credit is equivalent to 25% of the purchase price, not to exceed $125,000 total or $25,000 per year.
· Rehabilitation Credits: to offset development costs associated with the rehabilitation of a certified investor property.
o The Rehabilitation Credit is equivalent to 30% of the qualified rehabilitation, not to exceed $150,000 total or $30,000 per year.
In order for businesses or investors to be eligible to apply for the new incentives, properties must be located within a designated Rural Zone and meet applicable criteria.
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has posted drafted rules and an application process for the new Rural Zone program. Application materials and general information can be found at: http://www.dca.ga.gov/economic/developmenttools/programs/ruralzones.asp.
Applications for the first round of designations are due no later than October 31, 2017.
About the Georgia Department of Community Affairs
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) partners with communities to help them build strong and vibrant neighborhood, commercial and industrial areas through community and economic development, local government assistance, and safe and affordable housing. Using state and federal resources, DCA helps communities spur private job creation, implement planning, develop downtowns, generate affordable housing solutions and promote volunteerism. DCA also helps qualified low- and moderate- income Georgians buy homes, rent housing, and prevent foreclosure and homelessness. For more information, visit www.dca.ga.gov.
MaryBrown Sandys, Director of Marketing & Communications
Georgia Department of Community Affairs