Forsyth courts major economic development project - North Atlanta Business Post
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Updated Nov 14 @ 1:05PM

Forsyth courts major economic development project

West Coast business could add 300 jobs


FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The Forsyth Chamber of Commerce is helping court a West Coast e-commerce project that could bring more than 300 jobs with it.

Robert Long with the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce said the metro Atlanta area is one of four locations under consideration by the company, whose name has not been disclosed. Forsyth is one of the top finalists.

“Forsyth County is the finalist because of our quality of life, nationally recognized schools and existing e-commerce companies,” Long said.

The chamber was contacted by a realtor in September 2016, Long said. The company is focused on acquiring 1295 Bluegrass Lakes Parkway, a building with 117,000 square feet sitting on 12.81 acres.

The building currently has been used as storage since its purchase in 2002, producing 12 jobs.

If the company buys the property, it will invest $15 million at a minimum and will employ 342 people over four years with an average compensation and benefits of $39,517 a year, Long said. Of those jobs, 24 will exceed $78,000 a year. The expected annual payroll is $13.5 million.

“In 2016, our average project invested around $5 million and produced 30 jobs,” Long said. “This project is atypical. It will produce three times the investment and 10 times the number of jobs. It has been more than five years since Forsyth County has seen a project with this level of employment.”

A final decision will depend on whether the county can meet incentives the company is seeking.

First, the company is asking for a 12 year phased in tax abatement for the county portion of its property tax.

Not including school and county bond millage, Forsyth County’s current tax abatement policy would allow the company Tier 3 abatement based on the number of jobs it intends to bring. This project would pay the school portion of the tax bill as normal.

“Under this scenario, the county would still receive an estimated $180,452 in property taxes over the 12 years. The schools would be paid $1,007,499,” Long said. “Normal taxes would resume in year 13.”

The property paid $87,324 in taxes in 2016.

Once the company’s initial investment in the property is completed, any ongoing, recurring investment for maintenance and additional investment, such as replacement equipment, would be taxed at the full rate.

The last “payment-in-lieu-of-taxes” agreement the county approved was in 2011 for Scientific Games.

Next, the company said it needs more land to accommodate parking. The group requested that the underdeveloped right-of-way of Jones Road, which the county owns, be donated to the company.

That request gained support Jan. 24 when the County Commission unanimously voted to direct the county attorney to commence right of way abandonment of Jones Road.

“Jones Road serves this building and only a short amount of it has been paved,” Long said. “The company is asking for the undeveloped, unpaved portion, approximately .8 acres, that is owned by the county. There are only two additional parcels of note that touch this right-of-way, but they already have access to McFarland Boulevard off of Ridgeland Parkway and have no need for access via Jones Road.”

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