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Friday, January 11, 2013 - 12:00pm

Bill Would Boost Downtown Investment

A new bill would give tax credits to entrepreneurs developing property in Georgia’s downtowns. Its backers say those areas deserve help because they draw tourists and are still where many jobs are.

The Renaissance Act would establish several types of tax credits. One type, for example, would give a tax break to people who renovate historic residential buildings.

Amy Henderson is with the Georgia Municipal Association, which is behind the bill.

She says it costs more to renovate older buildings found in downtowns. As a result, many developers build new buildings or bypass cities altogether.

But she says the downtown properties are worth investing in.

“Those are valuable pieces of our history," she said in an interview. "They are typically really nice architecture, and, of course, the infrastructure is already in place in those downtown districts.”

The bill would allow for tax credits in areas that cities have already improved through new streetscapes and other changes.

Jeff Davis owns an IT firm in Dublin called Alterra Networks. He recently moved the company to a 100-year-old former post office in downtown Dublin. He says the bill would tap both public and private money.

“I think anytime people can be incentivized to reinvest in cities and downtowns I think that’s great because it requires private funds as well,” he said. "I think it's a great way that public policy can incentivize private money to restore our cities."

Henderson of the municipal association said Rep. Allen Peake of Macon will sponsor the bill in the upcoming legislative session, which begins Monday.