Commissioners conducted their first public hearing on the zones Monday and will hear additional comments July 23.
The two targeted locations have been hard hit by the Great Recession and have suffered from a lack of investment and development. Under state law, local governments can designate as enterprise zones areas that meet at least three criteria, including an unemployment rate that is at least 10 percent higher than the state’s rate, underdevelopment, crime and safety issues and general blight.
Enterprise zones aim to encourage private businesses to renovate or rehabilitate older structures and generate better employment opportunities.
A south Cobb zone including areas surrounding Veterans Memorial Highway and Six Flags and a separate Canton Road zone are being considered for the designation.
If approved, business owners would be able to apply for incentives that would include up to a 10-year graduated tax abatement of the county property tax excluding the school portion of the tax. Approved companies would get a full tax break for between one and five years, gradually decreasing by 20 percent annually.
Companies could also benefit from a $5,000 cap on building permit fees and $1,000 for business license fees each year for between three and five years.
County commissioners will discuss a specific application process and selection criteria at their July 23 meeting.
It’s an incentive that works, county officials say.
Businesses in areas already considered enterprise zones have created about 450 jobs with payroll approaching $20 million and have seen $57 million in capital investment.
Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents South Cobb, is on board.
“Any tool or incentive to spark redevelopment in the Six Flags area, I’ll support,” she said.
Chairman Tim Lee agrees and maintains it will have multiple benefits, like opening the way for an opportunity zone designation — another tax break available for areas experiencing an economic decline.