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Jan Moore: Troubling stat may well be blessing in disguise

            What may look troubling on the surface, can actually be a blessing in disguise.  Each year, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) ranks all 159 counties in Georgia based on certain economic factors and divides them into four tiers as required by the Georgia Job Tax Credit Law.

            The tier the county is designated to be in determines the amount of job tax credit that can be used against Georgia income taxes paid by the employer. These tax credits are available to any business or headquarters of any such business engaged in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, processing, telecommunications, tourism, or research and development.

            I know this sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo, but in reality it can result in real dollars for businesses in the counties that are considered Tier 1 – those counties deemed to be in the most need of business development.

In Tier 1 designated counties, which compose numbers 1 through 71 on the list, a business must create and maintain at least 5 new jobs to be eligible for a tax credit of $3,500 per job.

            Why should Bulloch County residents care about this? Well, for the last nine years, Bulloch County has been a Tier 2 county whereby employers can receive a $2,500 tax credit for each new job created with a minimum of 10 new jobs to qualify.

This year, we were found to be a Tier 1 county – which bluntly, is considered one of the “poorer” counties in the state based on the following three criteria: highest unemployment rate; lowest per capita income; and highest percentage of residents whose incomes are below the poverty level.

            One might look at that criteria, and then look around at our city and county and frankly be baffled.  We are officially ranked 60th out of 159.  In the last nine years, our ranking has ranged from 82 to 101. So which of the three factors cited as determining our ranking has changed so dramatically?

            Frankly, no one in Atlanta has been able to answer that question. It seems that stuff goes into the computer, and then stuff is “spit” out, which includes county rankings. But, I say, why look a gift horse in the mouth.

            Employers, add jobs, because you are getting the highest job tax credit in the state. New industry, come to Bulloch County because you are getting the highest job tax credit in the state. Did I mention that you will be getting the highest job tax credit offered in the state? This is actually a very good thing, a blessing in disguise as it were.

            I know that many of you are curious wondering which is the lowest ranking county? It is Hancock, followed by Telfair, Calhoun, and then Jenkins. Other neighboring counties ranked as Tier 1 include Candler, Evans, Screven, and Emanuel.

            Interestingly, our neighbor Bryan is ranked 153 out of 159 and is considered a Tier 4 county receiving the lowest job tax credit status. Effingham is ranked number 148 and Chatham 128. They can have their rankings, we’ll take our tax credits and smile all of the way to the bank.

            Until next week, I bid you au revoir.

 

            Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at jmoore@statesboroherald.net

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