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Roswell seeks to open 2nd opportunity zone: Would help bring more jobs to region



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Roswell has applied to the state to create a second economic opportunity zone on Ga. 9. This zone will help businesses within the zone hire employees through tax breaks. (click for larger version)
March 20, 2013
ROSWELL, Ga. – Because one just isn't enough, Roswell is pursuing a second economic opportunity zone within its boundaries, hoping to spur yet more economic growth.

The mayor and council approved the application March 11 to proceed with the new zone, which would follow Ga. 9 starting at Sun Valley Drive and continue north until the Roswell-Alpharetta border. This includes North Fulton Hospital and many of the associated medical buildings.

"The opportunity zone is a great incentive," said Alice Wakefield, Roswell's director of community development.

The new zone would encompass an area largely built out with commercial and industrial properties.

Wakefield said an opportunity zone is a state-approved area where businesses within it can get $3,500 in income tax breaks for each new employee hired for a period of five years. The idea is to help businesses hire more employees.

Roswell already has an opportunity zone, as does Alpharetta. Recently, General Motors signed a contract to bring more than 1,000 jobs to Roswell, in a location in the current opportunity zone.

"It's great," said Roswell Business Alliance President Steve Stroud. "This is a great opportunity to get new companies to again relocate to Roswell."

The RBA was formed to help foster business growth in Roswell.

Placing the new zone in the medical area of town was not by accident, he said.

"The whole medical sector is a driving force in our strategic plan to bring more medical companies to Roswell," he said. "This shows the leadership of the city are trying again to bring in quality businesses and grow and enhance the quality of life we've got to make it a stronger community."

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has to approve Roswell's new zone.

"[Opportunity zones] are a great tool to have in the tool box," said Al Nash, executive director of Progress Partners of North Fulton Atlanta, a part of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce. "It will help round out the opportunities here in Roswell."

Roswell has expanded its opportunity zones several times in the past few years and has seen the rewards of its efforts. Neighboring Alpharetta recently added its own opportunity zone.

"North Fulton is very attractive to companies looking to expand," Nash said. "Both Alpharetta and Roswell are doing a good job."

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