Economic incentives luring big business to north Fulton

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

While leaders in one North Fulton city are hopeful state-sponsored economic incentives will lure jobs to town, leaders in a neighboring city confirm to Channel 2 Action News those incentives are about to bear fruit in a big way.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. - While leaders in one North Fulton city are hopeful state-sponsored economic incentives will lure jobs to town, leaders in a neighboring city confirm to Channel 2 Action News those incentives are about to bear fruit in a big way.

This week, Alpharetta learned that it will be allowed to create a so-called "opportunity zone" along Windward Parkway at the Cobalt Center, which once housed AT&T office space.

"It provides a significant tax benefit for new jobs to Georgia, about $3,500 per job," Economic Development Director Peter Tokar told Channel 2's Mike Petchenik. "It keeps us competitive in the region in that we can compete with other opportunity zones."

Tokar said the 347,000 square feet of office space has been empty for 18 months and the city's hopeful the incentives will persuade a company to relocate there.

"All business are looking for incentives," he said, adding that Alpharetta has applied for four more opportunity zone designations along the Ga. 400 corridor.

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Al Nash, executive director of Progress Partners, the economic development arm of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, said Alpharetta will join Roswell and Sandy Springs in having the opportunity zones. Roswell currently has the largest zone in the state, he said.

"We've seen great success," said Nash. "In today's market, economic development professionals are looking for opportunity zones or areas that have opportunity zones."

Meantime, Roswell's mayor confirms incentives in an opportunity zone along Mansell Road have helped to land hundreds of high-paying jobs.

"We're excited about GM coming to town," Jere Wood told Petchenik.

Wood confirmed that the automaker has purchased a 25,000 square foot building on the corner of Warsaw and Mansell roads from UPS and intends to bring new jobs with it.

"It'll bring those jobs, those families, and the income that they bring and the money that they spend," said Wood.

A spokeswoman for GM wouldn't comment on the specifics or confirm what Wood told Petchenik.

"It is true that GM is rebuilding our IT organization and capabilities to better support our overall business," Juli Huston-Rough wrote Petchenik in an email. "But we aren't commenting on this issue at this time."

Wood said Gov. Nathan Deal would make an announcement about the project next week.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Community Affairs, which designates the zones, told Petchenik that in 2011, the zones generated 3,058 jobs statewide. Official said there currently 94 such zones across Georgia.


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