Advisory committee members drafting an urban-redevelopment plan for central Martinez agreed they would like to see tax credits given to businesses that want to invest in the area.
By creating an "opportunity zone," a state designation, businesses that choose to expand or locate inside the county would receive a tax credit of $3,500 for each job created, as long as at least two new positions were developed.
"The opportunity zone can be a powerful tool for existing businesses ... to do an investment project in their current location," said Development Authority Executive Director Troy Post, who led the final meeting of the 10-member advisory committee Thursday.
The area being discussed includes commercial properties on Settlement and Old Evans roads, residential sections off Martinez Boulevard, as well as retail sectors on Washington Road to the Richmond County line.
County planner Dave Van De Weghe noted that the county's recent start on construction of a broadband network should prove an economic incentive for businesses locating in the area.
Post said it's also important to encourage diversity among businesses locating within that portion of Martinez.
"There is a lot of evidence to suggest that if you have clustering to the extent that too many 'like' businesses are close to each other, it may prevent other kinds of businesses from wanting to locate in the area," he said.
The panel also recommended establishing an "incubator" program to help foster the development of new businesses.
Some committee members also liked the idea of starting a program using college and high school students to help market the plan.
Once a draft of the urban redevelopment plan is complete, it must be approved by the county commission before being forwarded to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
Post said he hopes to submit the plan to commissioners by early February and would like to designate the central Martinez area an "opportunity zone" by spring.
Residents can weigh in on the topic next month, when two public forums will be held.
The forums are tentatively set for Jan. 18 in the auditorium of the Evans Government Center and Jan. 27 at the West Town shopping center.
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