Cherokee County continues to make headway in its development efforts in part due to the presence of two Opportunity Zones that have been approved and working to successfully attract new investment to the County. Cherokee County currently boasts two economic opportunity zones – the Southwest Cherokee Corners Opportunity Zone and the Technology Ridge Opportunity Zone – which collectively have led to $111,000,000 in new committed or established investments and the creation of over 1,000 jobs in Cherokee County.
Both Opportunity Zones allow any business, including retail businesses, to qualify for the benefits of the opportunity zone. As long as a business creates two new jobs, they become qualified for Georgia’s maximum job tax credit of $3,500 per job. In addition, businesses are allowed credit against 100% of their income tax liability. Any excess credit that is available can be claimed against payroll withholding.
The results of these opportunity zones thus far have been stunning. The Southwest Cherokee Corners Opportunity Zone – an area in southwest Cherokee County encompassing 1,230 acres from the I-75/GA-92 interchange all the way to Woodstock Road along GA-92 – became effective January 1, 2009. In the past two years, eight companies have located to the opportunity zone, and the zone has attracted over $28,000,000 in new investment and over 530 jobs. In addition, Cabela’s, a large outdoor gear retail store that will rival Bass Pro Shop, will be located within this Opportunity Zone.
The other Opportunity Zone in place in Cherokee County – the Technology Ridge Opportunity Zone – has only been effective since January 1, 2012. However, this 4,617 acre area has been incredibly successful, with 18 companies choosing to locate or expand in the Opportunity Zone in the past two years. In addition, the Opportunity Zone has created over 470 jobs, and over $83,000,000 in new investments have been committed or put in place within the zone. The Technology Ridge Opportunity Zone is a joint project between Cherokee County and the cities of Ball Ground and Canton, with the intended purpose to “rehabilitate blighted and/or underdeveloped commercial/industrial areas, declining commercial corridors, and deteriorating city neighborhoods.”
The Council for Quality Growth commends the Cherokee County government for these proactive steps to foster development in Cherokee County, and will continue to offer its encouragement and support of similar measures throughout the metro Atlanta region.