By Kristal Dixon
ACWORTH — A long-awaited business park that is expected to bring jobs and opportunity to Cherokee County broke ground on Tuesday.
Business and community leaders gathered in the rain to attend the groundbreaking of Cherokee 75 Corporate Park in southwest Cherokee. The Cherokee Office of Economic Development and the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event.
Leaders on hand for the groundbreaking included members of the Development Authority of Cherokee County and its constitutional board, the Cherokee County Development Authority, county commissioners, state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) and state Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Hickory Flat).
Marshall Day, chairman of the Development Authority of Cherokee County, said the county began looking for the park in 2006. He noted leaders wanted a plot that provided convenient access to either Interstate 575 or 75 and that wasn’t “exorbitant to develop.”
“Six years later, we are here today to celebrate the opening of that park,” he added, noting the mission of the authority and the CoED was to bring “quality jobs” to the county.
The planned business park’s 100-acre site is located on James Dupree Lane off Highway 92 in southwest Cherokee County. The acreage for the park was expanded to 100 acres in 2010 with the purchase of an additional 47 acres by the county government using sales tax revenues. Of those 100 acres, 53 have been declared an Opportunity Zone by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
An Opportunity Zone is a developmental tool that allows local governments to provide tax incentives for economic development and revitalization of pockets of poverty. Benefits include eligibility for a $3,500 tax credit per each new job created, the use of job tax credits against 100 percent of income tax liability and withholding taxes and the expansion of the definition of business enterprise to include businesses of any kind.
The chairman of the constitutional board Cherokee County Development Authority, Steve Holcomb, said the county has had “great success” in Canton and northern Cherokee because increased development on the southern end of the county has driven up the price of land.
However, the landing of the property in southwest Cherokee has helped the county break that trend.
“We’ve got a terrible economy and mostly, it’s brutal,” he added. “But in this case, it helped us a little bit. It helped us get land at a good time at a good price.”
He added the development will bring in quality jobs that will in turn keep tax dollars and employees inside Cherokee County.
“I’m hoping that we’re planting a money tree as far as (the) tax base is concerned because it should be a money tree for the future,” he said, adding other business parks have been successful in bringing in thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue.
County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said getting the opportunity zone in place and purchasing the land for the park “took a lot of work,” which he said will pay off in the long run.
“It truly is one of our unique selling points,” he added. “This will be a great economic driver for the county.”
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