Joint Development Authority receives Highland 75 update
by Matt Shinall
Dec 14, 2011 | 2992 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It's no surprise that selling real estate has proven problematic in today's troubled economy, but further insight on progress at Highland 75 was given at Tuesday's meeting of the Cartersville-Bartow County Joint Development Authority.

Highland 75, the 707-acre master planned industrial park on Cass-White Road was forged through a partnership between Bartow and the city of Cartersville. This year saw the completion of the park's entryway, landscaping and certification, although land has been for sale since 2009.

"We find ourselves anxiously turning the calendar once again and hope that the next year is more prosperous for everyone," said John Watson, TPA Real Estate Services principal. "No use putting lipstick on a pig -- it's been tough, it's been a really, really tough year. Everybody knows that."

With a crowded market of existing industrial buildings, greenfield properties face stiff competition. On top of other challenges, investors are hesitant to put forth capital for new projects while world markets remain volatile.

"We delivered this thing all together in the eye of the storm, the storm has not subsided. We see little glimmers of daylight and the clouds come back over and we can't get things quite right in Europe and everything else," Watson said. "But none the less, if we can get any level of certainty -- at the local level, i.e. on that Freeport issue, and certainty out of our government and out of Europe -- I think we're clearly poised for a great opportunity and I am absolutely convinced of that."

As he referenced, Watson spoke on the importance of the Freeport tax issue. Lending advice to board members and elected officials present Tuesday, Watson urged for the reduction or exemption of Freeport taxes, a tax paid by industries on qualifying inventory goods. Those taxes, however, are tied to already shrunken revenues for the city and county.

"If there is any shot in the arm that is second to none in terms of what this community could do to put some lightening back in the bottle of our marketing [it's Freeport tax exemption]," Watson said. "There's no marketing dollar that could overcome that positive."

The most recent marketing tool to be announced is prominent placement in a leading regional tool for industrial real estate brokers, Dorey's Atlanta Industrial Guide. Highland 75 will be the first property on a list of locations certified as Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development.

"Dorey's is the preeminent marketing document and inventory of available space," Watson said. "This is a document that will hit in hard copy almost every industrial broker in [Atlanta]"

Overall, Watson's message to the board was positive and hopeful for a successful year in 2012 commending those present for the cooperation witnessed between existing industry and local governments.

Additional efforts will be made at the park in 2012 to create a "show-ready" product for prospective clients. The JDA approved Tuesday a 2012 budget for park development and common area maintenance, an area which this year received little attention. Park development and common area maintenance expenses from January to December this year totaled $14,658, while the 2012 budget will allocate $26,615.

Executive Director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Economic Development Authority Melinda Lemmon is preparing for Thursday's Job Tax Credit Seminar for local businesses. To be held at the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce, the seminar will last from 8 to 9 a.m. informing employers how to take advantage of available tax credits.

"It's a repeat performance for those who have been there before but an important aspect of that is that our incentivized areas, one of them is expiring at the end of the year. So we're reminding companies, all of our manufacturers, come to this seminar -- there may be something you're eligible for," Lemmon said.

The seminar is free to business representatives, but RSVP is requested by email at econdev@locationbartow.com or by calling 770-382-1466.