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Woodstock Eyes Opportunity Zone Designation

The Downtown Development Authority wants the City Council to move forward with applying for opportunity zone designation with the state.

The city of Woodstock could be next in line in Cherokee County to receive an opportunity zone designation from the state.

The Woodstock Downtown Development Authority earlier this month unanimously approved a resolution calling on the City Council to consider applying to receive an opportunity zone designation from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

The resolution was presented to the council during its meeting on Monday. 

City Manager Jeff Moon said the city is surrounded by other jurisdictions that have opportunity zone designations such as Alpharetta, Roswell and Cherokee County and it would be in Woodstock's best interest to consider applying for the designation. 

He referenced the Reformation Brewery project, adding that the company could have taken advantage of state tax credits for every job they create if an opportunity zone was active in the city.

“I think it’s going to be critical that we have every tool in our tool chest available to help recruit and attract these type of businesses," he stated.

Kyle Bennett, Woodstock's assistant director for tourism and visitor center operations, said the downtown area could be eligible to receive opportunity zone status, but added it would be up to the city council to determine which census tracts it would want to include in its application to the state. 

Created in 2004, an opportunity zone is a state designation that allows local governments to provide tax incentives for economic development and revitalization of pockets of poverty. 

Benefits include eligibility for a $3,500 tax credit for each new job created, the use of job tax credits against 100 percent of income tax liability and withholding taxes, and the expansion of the definition of business enterprise to include businesses of any kind.

Cherokee County has two opportunity zones: one that sits along the southwest corner of the county along and near the Highway 92 corridor and another in the central part of the county. 

The opportunity zone in the southwest corner includes the Cherokee 75 Corporate Park and other parcels and is roughly 1,150 acres. 

The newest opportunity zone, located in what's called the Technology Ridge area of the county, includes the Canton-Cherokee Business & Industrial Park, the RiverStone and Bluffs development, the Cherokee County Regional Airport and some property in the city limits of Ball Ground.

That opportunity zone, the first multi-jurisdictional zone in the state, was designated in 2012 and has 3,872 acres. 

The new opportunity zone will include about 4,704 acres. The designation will be valid through 2022.

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