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Firm seeks support for expansion
Authority gives early OK to loan application
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County Development Authority has signed off on preliminary steps toward a specialized loan for a company looking to expand in south Forsyth.

Nancy Smallwood of the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission attended a meeting of the authority Thursday. She said the company, IUS Technologies, has begun the process of applying for a state Employee Incentive Program, or EIP, loan.

The company, headquartered in South Korea, produces “smart grid technology” devices used by utility companies to more efficiently monitor outages. It has a manufacturing and distribution center at McFarland 400 Drive.

Randall Toussaint, vice president of economic development with the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said the company was recruited about 18 months ago.

“They’re looking to pursue about a $1 million [research and development] center here in Forsyth County,” said Toussaint, adding that the operation will eventually also have a manufacturing arm. “They’ll hire about 150 jobs, all local.”

Through an EIP loan, Smallwood said, companies can secure funding of up to $500,000 in exchange for hiring a certain percentage of their work force from “low to moderate income” populations.

“This company is looking to borrow $500,000 and they want to hire 150 people, so they would have to offer at least 61 jobs to low- to moderate-income people,” she said, noting that the program is way to help lower income individuals better themselves.

“People worry about low- to moderate-income people living in your county, but it’s actually a step up for low- to moderate-income people, to give them jobs and get them off welfare and that sort of thing.”

In Forsyth County, Smallwood said that income category would be those making about $20,000 a year or less.

If approved, the company could also draw from surrounding counties since Forsyth’s poverty level is so low. Smallwood said the poverty rate in the area is about 1 percent.

“It’s going to be a challenge for IUS Technologies … but they will be able to pull people from Lumpkin County, Dawson County, Cherokee County,” she said.

Development authority members voted unanimously to give preliminary approval for the company to move forward with the loan application, with some stipulations. Ultimate approval will have to come from the county commission and state.

The regional commission would handle the application process. If the loan is awarded, Forsyth would administer it and the company would pay a 3 percent interest rate.

Through the program, the total loan amount plus the interest would be repaid by the company to the county, which could then use those funds to begin a “revolving loan program” for other businesses wishing to locate or expand here.

The development authority would serve as an advisory council of sorts for the program, providing recommendations to the county on companies that apply for the funding.

In this first case, Chairman Bobby Thomas said the authority would like to learn more about the firm before giving a final recommendation. He suggested business representatives attend a future authority meeting.

In addition, he said company should pay a $1,000 application fee that is required before the regional commission can move forward.

Toussaint said he would communicate those two points to IUS representatives and set up a time for them to attend a meeting, which typically are held at 9 a.m. the third Thursday of each month at the county administration building.

In other business, members considered a request from Thomas for the authority to potentially fund a water fountain in front of the new county courthouse, which is under construction in downtown Cumming.

Thomas said the authority could use funds from fees that have been paid by businesses for various projects.

“[A fountain] is not part of the budget for the county’s part of the building,” Thomas said. “… I think this might be a perfect fit for the development authority to do this with non-tax payer funds … this is fees that have been paid by applicants to the development authority that have been kept aside and not mingled with any taxpayer funds.”

Members plan to revisit the idea at a future meeting.