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College Park receives opportunity zone designation
by Nneka Okona
February 27, 2013 12:37 PM | 1600 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye.Barbra Coffee, Director of Economic Development for College Park, on Main Street in front of City Hall. .
Staff / Katherine Frye.Barbra Coffee, Director of Economic Development for College Park, on Main Street in front of City Hall. .
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t the tail end of 2012, the city of College Park received designation from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs as an opportunity zone, a designation that had been a work in progress for nearly a year.

The designation, which is hyper-focused on the both the Main Street and downtown areas, has its share of benefits for prospective small business owners.

“Businesses that created a net growth creation of at least two full-time jobs from January 2012 on can be eligible for a job tax credit incentive,” said Barbra Coffee, economic development director.

New businesses that are looking at College Park as a location for their entrepreneurial pursuits would be able to benefit from this $3,500 tax credit per each employee — provided the positions are full-time permanent or at least 35 hours per week.

Being dubbed an opportunity zone is not only designed to encourage new business in College Park but to allow prospective business owners to see the growth the area has undergone in the past few years.

For instance, according to Coffee, one block of Main Street has no vacancies.

“The downtown district has seen growth by way of new businesses opening in 2012,” said Coffee. “With the economy being the way it has been since 2009, you saw very little new businesses in 2009 and 2010.”

The resurgence of new businesses in the area represents an upward trend that signals business taking off in a new direction for the city.

“One block on Main Street from Rugby to Walker is 100 percent occupied,” said Coffee. “It was 50 percent or less in the prior years.”

New businesses in College Park run the full gamut, such as Tony Morrow’s BBQ, Blu Bisque, pottery and painting studio, and most recently a cupcake shop called Forever Cupcakes.

There are several reasons why the downtown and Main Street areas are prime locations for the plethora of restaurants and shops that line the streets, such as the heavy employment area.

Many who work in the area commune there to grab a quick bite to eat or shop.

This trend is one that Coffee hopes will become consistent across from the College Park MARTA station on Princeton and Yale streets.

Coffee added there are areas within the opportunity zone that are not developed as of yet and were formerly residential properties.

“It represents an opportunity to add to downtown going west and create more walkable space,” she said. “We will continue to look for more things we can do to bring more people to College Park.”
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GCBlackstone
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March 01, 2013
College Park is fortunate to have someone of Barbra Coffee's caliber, who is a Certified Economic Developer, working on behalf of College Park. Coffee's determination and skills are recognized and appreciated more each day, not only by the CP elected officials but the residents, as well. As the business community strengthens, the residential base is expanding. Despite the perception generated by much of the media, CP is growing again; housing starts and renovations are visible throughout the city, particularly in the Historic area. The new businesses opening on Main Street are of "boutique" quality and very encouraging to see. Thanks to Ms. Coffee and her staff, as well as the excellent services of the CP employees. And many thanks to the business owners willing to take a risk in this city.
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