On the negative side, the four-tiered system developed and regularly evaluated by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs assigns job tax credit eligibility by three factors: unemployment, per capita income and poverty level. A move from tier 3 to tier 2 means Bartow's statistics in those areas have worsened.
The good news, though, is with each tier comes higher job tax credits -- nearly doubling benefits for eligible industries. Those credits may only be available for one year, but jobs created within 2012 will qualify for tier 2 credits for five years.
"In the turn of the calendar year, the Department of Community Affairs reassesses certain demographics for each county in the state relating to the economic health and well-being. Bartow County has historically been a tier 3 community for as long as I can recall, however, this year when they ran the numbers and divided 159 counties into four tiers, the way they do it we actually came out with a tier 2 status this time," said Melinda Lemmon, executive director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development, at Tuesday's meeting of the Bartow-Cartersville Joint Development Authority.
"It may only be for one year, but I wanted to make sure you were all aware of the implications of this change of tier status that is actually a benefit in an economic development perspective."
In addition to raising credit amounts, the tier change also lowers the number of jobs created in order to qualify, from 15 to 10.
"Eligible businesses are those defined business enterprises, the same we had before: manufacturing, warehouse distribution, research and development, tourism, telecommunication and broadcasting. If they create 10 jobs instead of 15, they can receive these benefits and the credits are basically $3,000 instead of $1,750. Remember, they get that $500 bonus by virtue of us having a multi-county joint development authority," Lemmon said. "So, they can save $3,000 per job, per year for five years for each of the 10 jobs that these business enterprises create. And instead of only being able to use those credits for up to half of what they owe the state, now they can use it for up to 100 percent of what they owe the state."
For more information, visit www.dca.state.ga.us or contact the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development at 770-382-1466 or visit www.locationofchoice.com.
Applying to both new and existing industry, the status change may be enough to encourage investment from local businesses hesitant to grow in a shaky economy and it may even give Bartow a competitive advantage over other locations for new projects.
"This change in tier status could be a significant benefit, particularly to those existing industries that are talking about adding jobs and hopefully will encourage some new companies," Lemmon said, adding that an undisclosed suitor, looking to add 400 jobs, is considering Bartow County. "With $3,000 per job -- this change alone, we feel like with one of the companies we've been working with, it's a significant difference for their 400 jobs they're considering. They're in a multi-state search right now, but for 400 jobs, that just added icing on the cake in favor of Bartow County."