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DeKalb County hoping for economic draw with community improvement districts
by Bridgette Bonner
bbonner@neighbornewspapers.com
May 29, 2013 10:45 AM | 1829 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Representatives of the Stone Mountain Community Improvement District are asking DeKalb County leaders for help in creating incentives for businesses to locate within county lines.

DeKalb County Commissioners last Tuesday sent applications to the state to allow Opportunity Zones by creating an Urban Redevelopment Plan, according to Luz Borrero, deputy chief operating officer for development. The county’s economic development office works with improvement districts to help create areas where Opportunity Zones can be established, Borrero said.

“DeKalb has worked over the last few years to expand the boundaries for the urban redevelopment area,” she said. “That allows for the plan, which allows us to look at areas eligible for establishing Opportunity Zones.”

The county has established 10 areas they consider to be eligible for the Opportunity Zone distinction, Borrero said. County officials sent the applications for those 10 areas to the state, which can either approve or disapprove the applications.

Borrero did not disclose which 10 areas the county will focus on.

The Opportunity Zone distinction could come with a $3,500 job tax credit for new and existing businesses in DeKalb County.

“The county has suffered serious economic setbacks during this period of delay,” said Emory Morsberger, Stone Mountain CID president. “Other communities with Opportunity Zones have beaten us in competition to attract employers, especially places like neighboring Gwinnett County.”

The lack of Opportunity Zones within DeKalb present a tremendous disadvantage, he said, but Stone Mountain community improvement district representatives see potential with the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners’ decision to apply with the state to bring the economic driver into fruition.

“Our county leaders have the chance to level the playing field and put us in a much better position to bring jobs to DeKalb County,” Morsberger said.

Avondale Estates recently announced its May 3 adoption of an Opportunity Zone, which will be in effect for 10 years with an option to renew.

Avondale Estates is one of nearly 20 other neighboring regions with the title, including multiple sections of Atlanta, Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton counties, Roswell, Sandy Springs and Norcross.

The title serves as an incentive for businesses to locate within DeKalb County, and all incentives from the state have no negative impact on the county, Morsberger said.
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