By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
Over two years of hard work to be designated an economic opportunity zone has finally paid off for the City of Royston.
This week, Royston learned that the Georgia Department of Community Affairs has approved the city for Economic Opportunity Zone tax credits.
Royston city officials have spent the last two years working with the Georgia Mountain Regional Commission to designate areas of the town for the status.
Businesses located in Economic Opportunity Zones are eligible for tax credits, which can be used to grow their business or attract new businesses and create jobs.
Royston Mayor David Jordan said it is hoped this new state designation will bring much-needed dollars to Royston and will strengthen its economic base.
“We’re thrilled,” Jordan said. “This has been a long process and a lot of waiting and a lot planning. It’s involved many different groups and consultants. These tax incentives and bring about new small and big businesses. So we’re just hoping and waiting to see what comes out of this.”
A number of businesses in downtown Royston have closed and the city is looking to fill those empty store fronts with new businesses.
In addition, the city was also hit hard when Ty Cobb Healthcare closed Cobb Memorial Hospital.
Jordan said that building is one part of the economic opportunity zone where they hope new jobs will be created.
“That is a great opportunity for some business to come in,” he said. “I think Ty Cobb is working to get that opened up again. We hope this new designation will be an incentive for somebody to come and re-open that facility.”
State Representative Alan Powell helped the town achieve economic opportunity zone status.
Powell said what’s good for one town will be good for all.
“Royston has been working toward this goal for years and I think it will pay dividends,” Powell said. “We don’t live in a vacuum anymore. Whatever benefits Franklin County benefits Hart. Whatever benefits Royston benefits Lavonia and vice versa.”
Obtaining the economic opportunity zone designation requires a two-part process that begins with putting together an application to submit to the state.
Public hearings are also required, which Royston went through last year.