Op-ed from Lawrence Callahan -Chairman, Stone Mountain CID and Emory Morsberger, President, Stone Mountain CID-
Ribbon cuttings allow communities to encourage investment in the future. Every new company or expanding employer is truly worthy of celebration.
Taking nothing away from the joy of a grand opening, it is important to realize that the new business may have just moved out of another community.
DeKalb has seen its neighbors attract new corporate headquarters, manufacturing facilities, high-tech employers and other businesses that could have flourished in DeKalb’s commercial areas.
There have even been cases where long-time DeKalb employers opted to relocate outside of the county, finding it easier to take root in other jurisdictions.
We at the Stone Mountain Community Improvement District (CID) have personally witnessed outward migration of business investment. All the while, our stakeholders have been calling for DeKalb to take a more aggressive stance toward business recruitment and retention.
Last year, during the CID’s extensive economic development planning efforts, corporate and community leaders clearly said that DeKalb needed to enhance the County’s economic development process. Thankfully, County Commissioners were listening and acted.
Commissioners budgeted $300,000 this year to begin revising the county’s permitting and licensing functions – a critical effort that the CID strongly advocated. This tremendous first step will increase the speed and efficiency for existing businesses to expand and for new businesses to locate in DeKalb.
Now the potential exists to further raise the stakes, but this time without cost to the county. This month, Commissioners can approve an application to the state’s Department of Community Affairs to create Opportunity Zones in designated commercial areas.
Opportunity Zones allow new and existing employers to receive state tax credits for creating two or more full-time jobs. Employers could save as much as $17,500 over five years for each new position.
These are state tax credits – DeKalb County will not lose money. In fact, businesses will be able to hire from within this community, and employees will have more income to spend closer to home.
Opportunity Zones are already functioning successfully in Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, and Norcross as well as in many other areas that are attracting corporations and cutting ribbons. The Stone Mountain CID and its businesses wish to encourage Commissioners to move forward with this powerful economic development tool and give their approval during the upcoming May 28 Board meeting.
We know that DeKalb County is poised for job creation and employment growth, and Opportunity Zones are key to achieving that greater level of success. The CID has posted a simple guide explaining Opportunity Zones at Stonemountaincid.com/files/oz-highlights.pdf
-Lawrence Callahan -Chairman, Stone Mountain CID and Emory Morsberger, President, Stone Mountain CID.