Cherokee County positioned well for economic development
From the Cherokee Office of Economic Development – March 2011
While the economy has been challenging over the last several years, the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (CoED) has taken advantage of the opportunity to position Cherokee County for business growth. In 2008, the office engaged Boyette Strategic Advisors to help them assess what Cherokee County has to offer new and existing business as well as to develop a plan to recruit more white-collar type business. One need that was highlighted was the lack of available space for a large build-to-suit project or possible smaller speculative buildings for office jobs.
With a newly adopted strategy in place to target and create more white-collar type jobs and retain Cherokee’s talented workforce, CoED is prepared to see additional successful businesses make Cherokee County their home. Misti Martin, President of CoED stated, “When prospect activity slowed, we spent more time planning and developing for future growth. Recently, we have seen a return on our investment as existing companies are expanding and prospect activity has increased by 70% within the first quarter of 2011.”
CoED has been working diligently for nearly three (3) years to acquire, and now develop, 100 acres in the southwest portion of Cherokee County. The corporate park is still in the engineering and permitting stage as plans are being developed for sewer, power, detention ponds, park drives, and future buildings. The master plan includes 20,000 square-feet of retail at the front of the property, smaller office space directly behind the retail, and the back portion for a larger, build-to-suit corporate space.
“Location, location, location,” is key for both home buyers and business owners alike. The new Cherokee 75 is located less than three (3) miles from I-75; a major distribution route with quick access to Atlanta’s booming metropolis. Marshall Day, Chairman of CoED said, “The amount of space available, proximity to I-75, as well as incentives for business is drawing business prospect activity to Cherokee 75.”
This corporate park has more to offer business prospects in location and incentives alike. Along with convenient proximity to I-75, the park also boasts a newly obtained Opportunity Zone (OZ) Designation. Companies looking to locate within these designated areas can qualify for the State’s maximum state job tax credit of $3,500 per job. The incentive is available for new or existing businesses which create two (2) or more jobs, the credits can be taken against the business’s income tax liability and state payroll withholding. As long as the jobs are maintained the tax credit may be claimed up to five (5) years. Cherokee 75 will be one of three (3) business developments located within the OZ intended for business growth, relocation, and headquarter projects.
The OZ certainly is a draw for business as proven by Consumer Product Services who is currently leasing space at the new Cherokee Commerce Center at SR 92 and I-75. Alan Michael, Executive VP of Consumer Product Services shared that, “the opportunity zone was a key factor in the company’s decision to move to Cherokee.”
Cherokee County has already set itself apart by incentives for new and existing industries, expedited permitting, reduced impact fees, and now the recently obtained OZ Designation for the Southwest Cherokee area. These incentives along with the development of Cherokee 75 keep Cherokee County looking quite opportunistic. But the opportunities of Cherokee County’s businesses do not stop at tax incentives. Misti Martin shared, “Just over the last year, we have worked with companies investing over $16 million and creating 135 jobs within Cherokee County. Business in Cherokee County is thriving and doing well.”
For more information on the Opportunity Zone or available office, industrial, and commercial space as well as available sites, please call the Cherokee Office of Economic Development at 770.346.0600 or visit the site selection database.