In today’s business climate, incentives rise to the top of discussions at some point in the conversation between business leaders, economic development professionals and/or city leaders. Incentives take a myriad of forms and in some cases are viewed as only available to large industrial projects. However, there are potential incentives that may be available to smaller business as well. Enterprise Zones, Opportunity Zones and Military Zones in Camden County provide incentive for small business start-up projects, relocation, or expansion projects. It is important to remember that the provision of economic development incentives for a project does not mean that a local economic development enitity, local government, or state or federal government will provide funds directly to the business for any purpose the business feels necessary. Incentives are provided in an effort to “fill-the-gap” between owner/business equity, private financing sources and the total project costs.
Both Kingsland and St. Marys have an Enterprise Zone and within these economic development zones the local government may provide incentives to a qualifying business or service enterprise. A “business enterprise” means an entity engaged primarily in retail, manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, processing, telecommunications, tourism, research and development industries, new residential construction, and residential rehabilitation. A “service enterprise” means an entity engaged primarily in finance, insurance, real estate activity or activities, or those engaged primarily in day-care activities. A qualifying business or service enterprise must increase employment by five or more full-time job equivalents in an area designated as an enterprise zone. The quality and quantity of such additional economic stimulus shall be determined on a case-by-case basis, by the local governing body that desgnated the enterprise zone. Such business or service enterprise may be new, an expansion or reinvestment of an existing business or service enterprise, or a successor to such business or service enterprise. Whenever possible, ten (10) percent of such new employees shall be low-income or moderate-income individuals. Potential incentives within an Enterprise Zone include reduction in ad valorem porperty tax, reduction in planning/permitting fees, and/or reduction of other fees where applicable.
Within the Kingsland Opportunity Zone, job tax credits of $3,500 per new job created are available for any lawful business enterprise which creates two or more jobs. These credits can be taken against the business’s income tax liability and state payroll withholding. The Kingsland Opportunity Zone includes commercial lots fronting Georgia Highway 40/King Avenue from the west side of the Exit 3 Interchange into downtown Kingsland. It also includes commercial lots along U.S. Highway 17/Lee Street from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard South through downtown Kingsland.
A parallel program exists within St. Marys through the Military Zone program. Within the Kings Bay Military Zone, which includes areas along Charlie Smith Sr. Highway and Georgia Highway 40/Osborne Road, job tax credits of $3,500 per new job created are available for any lawful business enterprise which creates two or more jobs. These credits can also be taken against the business’s income tax liability and state payroll withholding.
To determine if your potential site is within one of the Enterprise Zones or the Kingsland Opportunity Zone you can contact the Camden County Joint Development Authority at 912-729-7201. If you are interested in the St. Marys Enterprise Zone or Kings Bay Military Zone you may also contact Becky Myers with the St. Marys DDA at 912-882-8111. You may also contact both agencies if you have any additional question regarding these programs.