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Fee waivers now part of Roswell’s economic arsenal
by Joan Durbin
September 19, 2012 03:48 PM | 1978 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A policy for providing incentives for expanding or retaining existing Roswell businesses or luring new ones has been greenlighted by city council.

“Now not only can we act as if we’re business friendly, we can let people know it by publishing how we are business friendly,” Mayor Jere Wood said of an effort to codify certain incentives.

Presented at Monday’s city council meeting, the proposed Roswell Economic Development Incentive Policy was initiated at staff level at the behest of the Roswell Business Alliance and is one step in implementing the city’s strategic economic development plan, according to Alice Wakefield, Roswell’s community development director.

The initiative is a response to the marketplace. Businesses are looking for reasons to make a move or expand, and an incentive policy would be a tool for the Business Alliance to use as an inducement.

“We’ve had a lot of inquiries coming in to the city of Roswell about what the city is going to offer,” Wakefield said.

As envisioned, the policy would allow for reduction or waiver of building permit fees, waiver of some of the business registration fee, exemption from an impact fee and expedited permitting.

To qualify for consideration for any or all of these incentives, a business would have to meet criteria that include providing at least 50 full time jobs, new capital investment of at least $15 million and achieve city goals as outlined in the 2030 comprehensive plan and the strategic economic development plan.

Applications for incentives would be evaluated by a committee consisting of a member of the Roswell Business Alliance, City Administrator Kay Love and the city’s directors of finance and community development.

The committee would make a recommendation, but it would ultimately be a mayor and city council decision to grant any incentives. Economic benefit to the city would be a factor.

According to a report from the city’s community development department, lost fee revenues from one business due to incentives would be around $31,000, but would be offset by an increase in property taxes that in five years could yield a cumulative estimated gain to the city of $131,710.

The mayor said he thinks it would be better to have a definitive scale to measure business applications against incentive requirements rather than consider each on a case by case basis.

“In business, you want to have some predictability,” he said. “Even if it’s not binding, it would be some estimation of our intentions.”

Wood said he would also like to see parameters set for small businesses that might bring as few as five or 10 employees or not be able to afford a high level of capital investment.

The policy proposal was approved by council as written but may be tweaked after further review by staff and input from Councilwoman Nancy Diamond, council liaison to community development.

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