Last updated: June 09. 2014 11:26AM -
Asia Ashley aashley@civitasmedia.com

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In an effort to spur job creation and business investment, LaGrange and other cities around the state are taking advantage of the state of Georgia’s business tax-credit program.

According to the Department of Community Affairs website, businesses in poverty areas and designated “opportunity zones,” in which DCA considers areas that are within or adjacent to a census block group with 15 percent or greater poverty where an enterprise zone or urban redevelopment plans exists, can qualify for the state’s maximum job tax credit of $3,500 per job; Not all positions added will qualify and will be based certain qualifications and criteria.

In November 2011, the city of LaGrange tacked on to the initiative under former Mayor Jeff Lukken, who stated in a letter to the DCA that the unemployment rate in LaGrange was higher than the state and national averages, and that the creation of the opportunity zones is “an important tool to economic development to enhance the city’s growth.”

In the 2012 U.S Census, LaGrange had a poverty rate of 31 percent, above Troup County’s rate of 22.1 percent and Georgia’s 17.4 percent.

The incentive, which is available for new or existing businesses that create two or more jobs is a job tax credit which can also be taken against the businesses’ 100 percent Georgia Income Tax liability and payroll withholding tax.

Kimble’s Food by Design, LLC, has been in the tax- credit program for over a year and has received the credit for at least 10 of its employees and between $5,000 to $7,000 in tax credits, according to Office Manager Steve Thompson.

“It’s definitely worth the effort and worth our while,” said Thompson. “We include that-application for tax-credit- in the portfolios of our new-hires.”

Named “Large Business of the Year” this year by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, EMS Consultants LTD, is also part of the program.

In the calendar year 2012, 27 new jobs were created and in 2013, 20 new jobs were added, according to Human Resource Manager Terri Jones.

“As a result of the job tax credit program we have received tax credits for approximately 12 of those jobs in the last two tax years,” said Jones.

The company has a total of 95 employees.

LaGrange Director of Community Development Alton West said so far this year, five businesses have been approved for the program, to include Bath & Body works, Sally’s Beauty Supply and Splendid Events downtown.

Over 10 LaGrange businesses have been approved by the DCA, according to West, including Aldi, Inc. which is one of the first businesses approved in October 2012. All the others were approved in 2013 or later.

To find out if your business is in an opportunity zone, contact West at 706-883-2021. To learn more about the tax-credit program, contact DCA representative Dawn Sturbaum at 404-679-1585.

A map of LaGrange’s opportunity zones can be seen at http://www.dca.state.ga.us/economic/DevelopmentTools/programs/downloads/LaGrangeOZ.pdf.

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