Bainbridge among nine communities designated as ‘Rural Zones’
The state has designated the communities of Bainbridge, Commerce, Cornelia, Fitzgerald, Jonesboro, Nashville, Perry, Springfield, and Toccoa as Rural Zones, a new program enacted by the legislature in 2017. Portions of each community – primarily historic downtown areas – are now zoned to allow for tax credits to eligible businesses that create jobs and stimulate economic activity in these communities.
“The courthouse square and historic downtown has been the lifeblood of Georgia’s rural communities,” according to DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn. “The purpose of the Rural Zone is to encourage small business investment and job creation to help preserve these small town assets and stimulate economic activity in the community.”
Rural Zones focus on job creation and private investment in designated areas. The program includes three tax credit incentives: a Job Tax Credit, Investment Credit, and Rehabilitation Credit. For more information, please visit: www.dca.ga.gov.
“The city is very excited about the revitalization we will experience through the incentives offered through the Rural Tax District designation,” said Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Amanda Glover. The application process was an in depth look into our existing downtown program including historical information about the downtown area and its beginnings, narrative about what downtown was like at its most vibrant as well as the dominant factors that led to its decline in the 80s. The City of Bainbridge had to meet certain criteria to even apply for a Rural Tax District such as population less than 15,000, possess a concentration of historic commercial structures, proof of economic distress based on poverty rate, vacancy rate or blight, and must have a developed master plan. A district map was created identifying tax parcels that are currently vacant, parcels with vacant structures, structures that are blighted, and parcels with historic structures.
“It is fantastic to be designated as one of the nine Rural Zone communities in its inaugural year–this is another great accomplishment for Bainbridge. Amanda Glover jumped in right away in August 2017 and began gathering information like property values, parcel sizes, and property conditions to outline the district and finalize the requirements of the application. Downtown Bainbridge will be able to incentivize potential developers and existing businesses to invest in Downtown Bainbridge,” said Assistant City Manager Roy Oliver.
For a small rural town in southwest Georgia, Downtown Bainbridge has accomplished many unique projects, implemented development incentives, and created a sense of place since it was designated a Main Street community in 1991. Adding additional incentives to our “downtown toolbox” can only continue the growth and development of Downtown Bainbridge.