Plans to improve roads at Augusta Corporate Park and denote the area as an opportunity zone were announced Thursday at the monthly meeting of the Development Authority of Richmond County.
Executive Director Walter Sprouse said the paperwork has been filed to make the area on Mike Padgett Highway an opportunity zone, allowing employers to receive $4,000 in tax credits for every job created. If approved, it would be the fourth opportunity zone in Richmond County.
The area must undergo research before the Georgia Department of Community Affairs can approve it as an opportunity zone, Sprouse said. The process is estimated to cost $14,000, but Sprouse said the payoff is likely to be far beyond that.
“It’s costing us some, but we just feel it’s that important for the development along that corridor,” he said.
The opportunity zone program began in 2004 as a way to stimulate development in less-developed census tracts, awarding state tax credits to businesses that bring jobs to an underdeveloped area. Sprouse said he hopes the Mike Padgett opportunity zone extends all the way to the Burke County line. There’s no guarantee that the designation will be awarded, but Sprouse said it is likely.
“It’s an area that needs a little kick-start,” he said.
The most notable kick-start to that area of late has been the Starbucks plant in Augusta Corporate Park, and Sprouse announced Thursday plans to develop roads in the park in order to get around more efficiently.
The main access road off Horseshoe Road is now on Starbucks property, Sprouse said, so plans are in order to extend the cul-de-sac off Mike Padgett Highway to allow for ease of access.
“We’ve always said we would wait until that first project before we did anything,” he said.
Also, the board unanimously approved the creation of the Jerry B. Dye scholarship at Augusta Technical College to honor a 38-year veteran attorney of the development authority. The development authority staff will promote this scholarship as a way for companies coming to the Augusta area to give back to the community.
“While he never attended a class, he was a part of our school in a very real way,” said Terry Elam, a member of the development authority board and the president of the college.
Elam said Dye was a longtime supporter of Augusta Tech, so it is fitting that his name be permanently linked to it.
“This is just an opportunity for him to be forever a part of our school,” Elam said.