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City hoping to get boost to add jobs
The entire city of Brunswick could qualify for increased job tax credits.

City officials had been working toward having a portion of the city along Altama Avenue designated as a state Opportunity Zone, providing $3,500 in tax credits for existing or new businesses that create at least two jobs. Now, it appears that zone could be expanded to include the entire city.

The criteria to become an Opportunity Zone have been changed since the city initially applied for the designation. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which administers the program, has made its rules more lenient.

"It was not only just solely based on economic level," said Brunswick Mayor Bryan Thompson. "There was also a category for housing and amounts of substandard housing that might be in a neighborhood. Because of that, it appears that the entire city might be able to be recognized ... as an opportunity zone."

The city's application still has to be submitted to the state agency and approved before credits can be implemented.

Arne Glaeser, city planner, says the change in criteria allows the city to use the same boundaries of its Urban Redevelopment Plan, created in 2009 to make the city more competitive for grants, that includes the entire city.

City officials hope that tax credits, if they become available, will be an incentive for businesses to increase hiring or to open inside the city limits.

Thompson hopes a credit of $3,500 per job, with a two job minimum, will convince entrepreneurs to locate their businesses inside Brunswick.

"It's quite an incentive program, because of the tiering structure we've had here, countywide," Thompson said.

Glynn County has not be able to offer high job tax credits because of the tier it falls in under the state classification. The county was in the state's highest classification, with the smallest tax incentives attached, until the beginning of January, when it was dropped from Tier 4 to Tier 3.

Tier 4 gives business owners $1,250 in state tax credits for each new job created, with a 25-job minimum to qualify. Under a Tier 3 classification, a business will need only to create 15 jobs to qualify for a tax credit and can receive $1,750 for each new one.

Kelley Daniel, owner of Rent -All of Glynn, 2723 Carrie St., Brunswick, says he would like to expand his business, but it won't be entirely because of a tax credit.

"The only reason to base a decision for hiring someone is increased demand," Daniel said.

Until the economy hits a sustained upswing, Daniel is cautious about adding jobs, but when that time comes he'll have the tax credit in the back of his mind.

Sarah Yednock, economic development specialist for the Coastal Regional Commission, which provides government planning services for a 10-county region, is helping the city with its application.

She says it is unlikely that the tax credit will be the sole reason for a business to expand or open, but every bit of incentive that a municipality can offer is worth it.

Tax credits reduce financial burdens, and that's something all business owners could use, Yednock said.

"They wouldn't hire (someone) they don't need just because of the tax incentive, but it would help them offset costs," Yednock said. "Anything that reduces uncertainties for businesses is a positive."

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