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RH hopes military zone will draw business
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Richmond Hill City Council members approved a measure Tuesday aimed at bringing more business into certain parts of the city.
The council voted unanimously to establish a zone from I-95 and Highway 144 south and along both sides of Highway 17 between Ford Avenue and I-95 that will provide tax incentives to businesses that hire at least two employees.
The vote authorized Mayor Harold Fowler to designate part of the city as a “military zone” through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. That will provide job tax credits of up to $3,500 per job created to businesses that set up shop in the zone, officials said. At least two jobs must be created for a business to qualify, according to the DCA.
Fowler said the zone should help bring more business into Richmond Hill.
“It is an incentive,” Fowler said. “If you can get a restaurant to come in to that area and let’s say they hire 50 employees, that’s quite a savings to them.”
The designation also provides other tax breaks to businesses — allowing them to use job tax credits against 100 percent of their income tax liability and withholding taxes. The job tax credit can be claimed by any business, regardless of its nature, the DCA website said.
A map provided to the council during its meeting Tuesday at City Hall showed the new military zone is partly bordered by 1-95 and Highway 144. The zone extends eastward from the 144 exit at the interstate past 17 to the second set of railroad tracks crossing 144.  
According to the DCA website, the federal Job Tax Credit Program was launched because it “provides additional benefits to specified census tracts or additionally designated areas that are considered to be less developed or have a higher rate of poverty,” it said.
The “military zone” designation was added in 2004 for areas adjacent to a military base with at least a 15 percent poverty rate.
Parts of Chatham, Liberty and Long counties are either eligible or already designated as military zones, as are Camden, Evans, McIntosh and Tattnall counties.

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