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Atlanta Streetcar Corridor Designated Opportunity Zone

March 12,2013

Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs has approved the application of the Auburn Avenue district as an Opportunity Zone, creating a tax incentive for businesses to expand and locate in the historic area, the Mayor’s Office and Invest Atlanta announced Tuesday.

Invest Atlanta applied for the designation last November.

Map of Opportunity Zone

Businesses located within an Opportunity Zone qualify for a yearly income tax credit of $3,500 for each new job created as long as they create at least two net new jobs. Tax credits are good for up to five years and $17,500 as long as the business continues to hire at least two new people per year. Opportunity Zones are used as an incentive to lure new businesses and encourage existing businesses to stay.

“This Opportunity Zone designation for the Auburn and Edgewood Avenue District will benefit new and existing businesses in an area that is rich in history and is poised for a cultural and economic resurgence,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “The Atlanta Streetcar project will help to revitalize this corridor and, thanks to this announcement, there will be an additional incentive for businesses to make further investments along the streetcar route.”

Duriya Farooqui, Chief Operating Officer for the City of Atlanta, along with Brian P. McGowan, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, announced the Auburn Opportunity Zone at The Epsten Group, a leading sustainable architecture firm in the southeast. The firm is located in a renovated, historic building on Edgewood Avenue and is an example of Auburn’s potential for growth.

“Invest Atlanta is highly committed to the success of the Auburn Avenue district, both for its historical significance and its tremendous potential as a destination for innovative, forward-looking businesses,” McGowan said. “The Opportunity Zone designation will help business owners who might not have otherwise considered Auburn Avenue recognize that potential.”

The Opportunity Zone comes at an important time for the Auburn Avenue community. The Sweet Auburn District has been listed as endangered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in part because the area needs a more robust business community to work in partnership with the historic sites to ensure a thriving area worthy of Sweet Auburn’s rich history.

“This is more good news for the Auburn-Edgewood corridor,” said City Councilman Kwanza Hall. “Last week, we laid the first tracks for the Atlanta Streetcar, our ‘Downtown Re-Connector.’ With the Auburn Avenue Opportunity Zone, we are preparing the way for existing small businesses to expand while offering an incentive for prospective businesses to join us and shape the future of Atlanta’s legacy corridor.”

A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, said the Opportunity Zone comes at a perfect time. His organization released at Tuesday’s press conference the Atlanta Streetcar Corridor Development and Investment Guide. “With Atlanta Streetcar construction underway, and today’s release of the accompanying development and investment strategy guide, Downtown’s Sweet Auburn district is poised for great things.”

Several community leaders joined Invest Atlanta, the Mayor’s Office and Hall in gaining approval for the Opportunity Zone. They included state Senator Emanuel Jones; Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner; Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Mike Beatty; and Mtamanika Youngblood, chair of the Historic District Development Corporation. Invest Atlanta and Georgia Power co-sponsored the research required for the Opportunity Zone application.