Local legislators surprised by bill to abolish Augusta incubator

ATLANTA — Augusta area legislators said Monday they were surprised by the introduction of a bill to abolish an agency designed to help spin off medical innovations into private jobs.

On Friday, House Economic Development Subcommit­tee Chairwoman Penny Hous­ton, R-Nashville, introduced House Bill 513, which would dissolve the Georgia Medical Center Authority. Her subcommittee also voted to remove it from the state budget.
At one time, the authority ran a business incubator in a downtown office building on Broad Street where startup companies could get cheap rent and free management advice.

“Since it did not have any tenants, we just did not see appropriating $75,000 more money,” Houston said.

The $75,000 would pay the salary of Stan DeHoff, the authority’s director, who told the committee he planned to issue bonds to provide funding for operations and to assist biotech companies. Houston disagreed.

“The committee felt like we just couldn’t have somebody out there just to issue bonds,” she said.

DeHoff said Monday he couldn’t comment.

Richmond County legislative delegation Chairman Wayne Howard, D-Augusta, said he hasn’t decided whether to fight Houston’s bill.

“It caught me off guard when I heard it,” he said. “… I understand they’re not doing anything now. If that is true, it may make sense, but I would like to look into that a little further.”

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