Economic development officials say Census tracts 9604 and 9606, which have experienced significant job losses and business closures, were deemed Less Developed Census Tracts by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
Wheeler's Building Supply, Trinity Rail Group and Mohawk Industries were located in the two Census tracts in Cartersville. In 2008, Wheeler's closing eliminated 39 jobs; Trinity's 2009 closing took away 659 employment posts; and Mohawk, which shut the doors of a local plant, phased out 229 positions by the end of August.
"We had all the documentation we needed with those particular closures. There certainly have been other jobs lost but those had the proper documentation and the numbers met the legislative criteria," said Melinda Lemmon, director of Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development. "What this does is double the job tax credit -- that is double the $1,750 that our manufacturing companies are entitled to now."
Companies engaged in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, processing, telecommunications, tourism, or in research and development industries that create eligible jobs will be able to claim up to a $3,500 tax credit per job, which they could then use against corporate tax liability and payroll withholding taxes.
"The state legislation enables $1,250 in a job tax credit to qualified Bartow County business -- manufacturers, warehouses and distribution, tourism, research and development and headquarters," Lemmon said. "Qualified businesses usually are manufacturing- and economic development-related businesses. Bartow County has tried to do whatever it can to maximize that job tax credit for local businesses that want to create jobs."
Lemmon added that several years ago Bartow took advantage of a multi-county joint development authority, which increased the credits to $1,750 per job created.
"The Less Developed Census Tract is another tool that now we have in place, short term although it may be, that will help regenerate jobs in those economically distressed areas, and then Opportunity Zones is yet another way to enhance the job tax credit and broaden that to include retail," Lemmon said. "So there are several ways we are going about increasing the job tax credit, and at the end of the day, the reward is the job tax credit."
As part of its Urban Redevelopment Plan, the city of Cartersville has applied for Opportunity Zone status for three areas but the determination is still pending, Lemmon said, adding Bartow County would be applying for Opportunity Zones in other areas as well.
"This is a big deal for tax credits for existing industry. These [Less Developed Census Tracts] encompass a lot of our existing industries," said James Jarrett, Cartersville-Bartow County Joint Development Authority chairman, during a Tuesday meeting. "The opportunity zones are smaller and perhaps not as much of our existing industry, but this really is a good boost for folks who are trying to add jobs and right now we need folks adding jobs. ... Every program we can find, every incentive system, we need to be taking advantage of."
The increased job tax credits for businesses in those Census tracts are short term and run through the end of 2010.
"[The measure] allows companies, industries in those areas, at least through the end of this year, to take advantage of a tax credit greater than the normal job tax credit," said Rachel Rowell, Existing Industry director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development. "We are trying to put together a few dates for training sessions for those plant managers, CFOs, comptrollers, and/or accountants or HR managers to learn more about this process and that will happen hopefully mid-November."
During the Tuesday meeting, Lemmon said the key speaker would be an accountant who applies for the credits on behalf of companies.
"We will announce some public education opportunities, at least two seminars we will be putting on. DCA will have an opportunity to fully explain the program, the eligible companies, the frequently asked questions," she said. " ... One of the key rewards of this is not just the credits that can be applied against 100 percent of the company's income tax liability, but for the first time Bartow County has a tool that allows the companies to use the credits against withholding taxes, and that is significant."
-- Staff Writer Matt Shinall contributed to this report.