Radford, deputy director of the division of external affairs for the GMA, spoke Tuesday to the Seven Hills Rotary Club in an attempt to raise awareness and support for the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Act, which would create tax credits for those who invest in Rome and other cities.
“Combined, our downtowns across the state are big business,” Radford said. “They create thousands of jobs a year, one job at a time.”
The proposal, currently being studied by legislative counsel, would create $20 million a year in statewide tax incentives, ranging from 10 percent to 25 percent, for investments in new construction or renovation of an existing downtown building.
It would create an additional $5 million tax incentive statewide for the purchase (5 percent of the purchase price) and/or renovation (15 percent of the cost) of owner-occupied housing in downtown areas.
Radford said the proposal is a job creation measure. In other states, every dollar paid out returned $3.31 within five years of project completion, according to information provided by the GMA. Every $1 million of state tax incentives created 109 new jobs, the GMA reported.
“Cities generate 83 to 84 percent of the state’s gross product,” Radford said.
The problem in getting the measure passed, Radford said, is getting the state to loosen its fiscal belt. The estimated $30 million in tax credits would have to be factored in as an expenditure item in the state’s budget.
When asked, Radford assured the crowd that smaller cities would get a piece of the tax incentive pie. Georgia has 410 cities with populations of less than 5,000 people, he told the crowd.
Radford named Rome, LaGrange, Gainesville, Valdosta and Thomasville as some of the best downtowns in the state.
“People are looking at you through the windows of your downtown,” Radford said. “You do see the value of your downtown.”