A technical measure few had heard of – an additional tax exemption to entice and retain industry – is one of Liberty County’s top planning goals along with the 2020 census, a sales tax for transportation projects and development of the I-95 interchange in Midway.
More than 75 participants met at the annual countywide planning workshop in March on St. Simons Island where for two days they reviewed progress and discussed targets for the future.
A tax exemption for fulfillment centers in e-commerce will need to be approved by Liberty voters in November, as will the Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax.
Liberty County Development Authority CEO Ron Tolley explained that business inventories on site for less than 12 months are not taxed now but he urged approval of a measure to specifically exempt products in online sales. Tolley said Liberty County had lost two or three bids aimed at getting fulfillment centers to locate here because Liberty has no e-commerce tax exemption and some competing counties do.
“The problem is site selection consultants,” Tolley said, “they look for reasons to reject potential locations.” Thirty-one participants cast straw poll votes for including the e-commerce tax exemption on the November general election ballot.
Some planners were concerned that putting the e-commerce exemption on the ballot along with TSPLOST would confuse voters. One elected official said, “I’m not sure we can sell both of them at the same time.” Community outreach is planned to inform voters about both questions.
An LCDA slide from Tolley’s presentation read, “Liberty County needs to be ready for the next fulfillment center that comes calling,” and displays corporate logos including those of Amazon, Bass Pro Shops and Ebay.
Tolley also presented a separate review of LCDA activities in 2018. The authority completed a paving project in its Trade Port East park. Tolley said 3,900 feet of Old Sunbury Road had been paved.
Clearing is under way at the TPE site of Western Power Sports, a new business for Liberty County that will employ about 90 people. The authority is selling a 33-acre site along Sunbury Road in TPE for $309,135. Up to $16 million in revenue bonds may be issued to help finance the project.
Tolley also reported that Elan Technologies had moved into a new building in the authority’s Midway Industrial Park. Another new business, a rug manufacturer, will occupy an existing building in the Midway park. The rug company is expected to employ about 100 people and its future economic impact is estimated at $5.6 million.
Coverage of the county’s priorities set at the workshop will continue in next Wednesday’s Courier.
Parker can be contacted by email at email@example.com.