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Georgia gives extra credit
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Forsyth County News
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has approved a 1,732-acre area in northern Forsyth County for special job tax credits.

The state opportunity zone program rewards employers who create new positions.

Businesses in the zone can receive $3,500 per person for each new job created for up to five years, with a minimum of two new positions, according to a report from the county.

Maintaining more than 60 jobs for five years could bring in more than $1 million in state tax credits.

Currently, the overall affluence of the county has placed it in a category that allows the lowest credit in the state, or $1,250 for creating 25 new jobs, the county report said.

But the opportunity zone will be an exception.

The Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce began touting the opportunity when the county received state approval Tuesday.

“What it allows us to do is have a very defined area of the county that truly is in need of some redevelopment and investment,” said James McCoy, chamber president and CEO.

“And it makes us a lot more competitive in that those additional job tax credits are available to us.”

The zone, the 29th in the state, encompasses an area along Hwy. 369 from Hwy. 9 to Mashburn Drive, which McCoy said has few businesses.

“The idea is that new investment and new activity will improve the look and feel of things,” he said.

To qualify for the state-level opportunity zone, the area must have 15 percent or more of its population living at or below poverty. It must also follow a redevelopment plan and prove distress and blight exist there.

Forsyth County commissioners signed off on the plan before it went to the state.

Commissioner Patrick Bell, whose district includes the zone, said the area offers a gateway to Lake Lanier and could be a prime place for business.

“The majority of the area has sat idle as other sections of Forsyth County have experienced significant increases in building permit applications, business license fees and assessed value,” Bell said.

The county is also considering applying for an opportunity zone in south Forsyth.