Passage of Rural Downtown bill excites local community leaders

Passage of Rural Downtown bill excites local community leaders
(Pelham Revitalization Map)
(Pelham Revitalization Map)

PELHAM, GA (WALB) - Governor Nathan Deal could help bring rural South Georgia downtowns back to life.

A bill was signed that targets small Georgia towns that are suffering from difficult economic conditions.

"House Bill 73 will give the city of Pelham some incentives that some other communities our size don't have," said Jim Hedges, City Manager of Pelham.

It provides three types of tax credits in order to promote the revitalization of vacant rural downtowns.

"What we're really looking to do is just provide an incentive to create some sort of economic activity. A lot of times that comes in the form of retail," said Department of Community Affairs Commissioner, Camila Knowles

Businesses can now receive tax credits for creating jobs, and buying and rehabbing vacant storefronts in these small towns.

Hedges said this bill could help attract business owners to that community. "I've got to empty buildings here and with a little bit of luck we can get someone in here,"

Up to 10 revitalization zones can be approved per year with a maximum of 50 revitalization zones in existence at one time.

Luckily for Pelham  it is already one step closer to a more lively downtown community.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs approved  its request to become a revitalization zone.

"It's certainly going to provide us extra incentive to draw industry and companies in," said Hedges.

The bill applies to rural communities with populations of 15,000 or less.

Under HB 73, business owners in a revitalization zone can receive an employee tax credit of $2,000 per employee.

It caps out at $40,000 per year, or 20 employees.

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