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Economic Development

Jan. 24 - Fitzgerald and Nashville designated as Rural Zone; Goal is economic development

Dublin Business Journal Staff Report

January 24, 2018 - Sen. Tyler Harper (R – Ocilla) recently announced that two communities in Senate District 7, Fitzgerald and Nashville, have been designated as Rural Zones by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

Fitzgerald is in Ben Hill County.  According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the county's population is declining. The population estimate as of April 2010 was 17,634; the most recent data for 2016 reports the population at 17,243. 

Nashville, GA is in Berrien County. The population estimate for that county as of April 2010 was 19,286; the most recent data for 2016 reports the population at 18,993.

State leaders are currently considering a number of initiatives to revitalize more than 140 counties in Georgia that are losing population, or have not experienced growth over the past 10 years. 

“The new designation for these communities will bring opportunities for economic development that are needed in rural Georgia,” said Sen. Harper. “The tax credits and investment incentives that this program will provide will open up doors for those in our communities. This is only a small part of the legislature’s efforts in bringing more opportunities to rural Georgia and I want to thank the Georgia DCA for identifying the need in our area.”

The Georgia DCA, along with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, can establish up to ten rural zones each year. Bainbridge, Commerce, Cornelia, Jonesboro, Perry, Springfield, and Toccoa also received Rural Zone designations this year.

Parts of these communities are now zoned to allow for tax credits to eligible businesses that create jobs and stimulate economic activity. The tax credits that make up the Rural Zone program include a job tax credit, investment credit, and rehabilitation credit.

State Rep. Matt Hatchett (R- Dublin) serves on the House Rural Development Council, created by House Resolution 389 during the 2017 legislative session. The goal of the Council is to work with rural communities to find ways to encourage economic growth.

 “Georgia has seen a tremendous economic boom in recent years, but many of our state’s rural communities have not reaped the same benefits. The House Rural Development Council will explore ways to revive neglected rural communities across our state and rejuvenate rural Georgia’s private businesses, and I’m proud to serve on this council that will work to solve some of our state’s greatest economic challenges,” said Hatchett when he was named to the Council in April, 2017. 

The council is composed of 15 members of the Georgia House, tasked with undertaking a study of the conditions, needs, issues, and problems with economic development of the state’s counties designated as rural, and to recommend any action or legislation which the council deems necessary to enhance education, infrastructure, access to health care, and economic growth incentives. 

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