Federal “Opportunity Zones” to encourage business development in Columbus

Georgia

Parts of Columbus may soon see more “Open” signs flashing across the area as the federal government aims to aid struggling business development.

The recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act creates the potential for “Opportunity Zones” — designated areas where the poverty rate is 20 percent or higher. Any new business that sets up shop or investor who dedicates assets within an “Opportunity Zone” qualifies for federal tax credits to apply to their corporate withholding or payroll withholding.

The credits, which can reach up to $3500, apply to new businesses that create five or more jobs that offer health insurance and pay the minimum wage.

President and CEO of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce Brian Anderson says these incentives will hopefully encourage business start-ups to find different parts of Columbus more appealing.

“What we hope is that this impoverished part of our county that we have businesses start and we start one, then more sprout up around it. you can create a kind of momentum if you get one to start there,” Anderson explains to News 3’s Mikhaela Singleton. “So these incentives, these tax incentives, these tax credits, are put in place to help businesses go somewhere they might not consider otherwise.”

He adds the “Opportunity Zone” designations are by no means a permanent solution to poverty in Columbus, but hopefully it will be a catalyst for upward growth.

“We love having those tools in our tool box. We’re thankful we only have 14 parts of our county that need this kind of help, but we’ll feel good when we’ve got enough development happening that we don’t need this kind of help,” Anderson says. “Our poverty rate has gone down over the past two years, so these kinds of incentives can help that continue to go down.”

Click here to read more about the qualified “Opportunity Zones” across Georgia.

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