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Homerville approved for Rural Zone Program

The City of Homerville has been selected as one of Georgia’s Rural Zone programs.

City officials were contacted last week about their approval for the program, which provides a series of economic development incentives for rural downtown areas. It was announced at Tuesday’s called Homerville City Council meeting.

“Receiving the Rural Zone designation has already created a buzz in our small town,” said Homerville Main Street Manager Laura Nipper, who worked with the Downtown Development Authority and others on the application. “I have had several conversations in the past week from property owners and entrepreneurs about possibilities thanks to our designation.”

The Rural Zone Program will provide tax credits to buy, rehab and create jobs in downtown Homerville.

The intent of the program is to stimulate investment job creation and economic deveopment through a series of tax credits. The three tax credits are:

• The Job Tax Credit, which provides a state tax break of $2,000 per new full-time equivalent job per year, up to 5 years and not to exceed $200,000 total or $40,000 per year. 

• The Investment Credit, which provides a state tax credit the equivalent to 25% of the purchase price of a building in the downtown area, not to exceed $125,000 total or $25,000 per year. At least two net, new full-time equivalent jobs must be created and maintained to qualify for the investment credit. This credit is for people who purchase a building downtown and cannot be taken unless jobs are created.

• The Rehabilitation Credit is equivalent to 30% of the qualified rehabilitation, not to exceed $150,000 total or $50,000 per year. At least two net, new full-time equivalent jobs must be created and maintained to qualify for the rehabilitation credit. This credit is to offset development costs associated with the rehabilitation of a certified investor property.

“I am thrilled that that Georgia Department of Community Affairs approved our Rural Zone application for three main reasons. First, 55% of people who live in Homerville live in poverty and research indicates entrepreneurship is the fastest way out of poverty. Next, 90% of vacant structures are blighted and these tax credits will reduce the financial risk for those who wish to buy and rehabilitate a building to start or expand a businesses. Lastly, a vibrant downtown and quality public school system are a must for any community that wishes to retain population and attract business and industry. Our community will have both thanks to the passing of the ESPLOST and being designated the Rural Zone,” said DDA Chair Jenny Robbins.

City and DDA officials will be undergoing training on the Rural Zone program in the coming months, prior to the program starting on January 1st of 2022. 

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