Partners (Fall 2001)

OneGeorgia Authority:
Bridging Georgia's Economic Divide
 
by Sibyl Howell

Sibyl Howell, Community Investment Advisor, is in the Atlanta office and serves the state of Georgia.

OneGeorgia Authority is the latest local and regional economic development tool created to address Georgia’s economic divide. Created by Governor Roy Barnes and the state legislature, the Authority will utilize one third of Georgia’s National Tobacco Settlement to assist the most economically challenged areas in the state.

OneGeorgia Authority anticipates spending $1.6 billion on investments in 71 of Georgia’s poorest counties over the 25-year term of the settlement. OneGeorgia’s investments will be in tier 1 and tier 2 counties, based on a four-tier job tax credit map developed by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA). These tiers are ranked based on unemployment, poverty rates, and per capita income.

FY 2001 Program Funding

On October 6, 2001, the OneGeorgia Authority Board approved a $62 million budget for the fiscal year. A total of $9 million was allocated to a reserve account with the remainder designated for five separate fund accounts. The Flint River Drought Protection program was allocated $10 million to compensate farmers in the Flint River Basin area for losses incurred when they agree to forgo irrigation during a declared drought year. Another $13 million is budgeted for additional assistance to the tobacco farmers beyond that provided through the tobacco settlement, which will assist in attracting additional federal dollars. Another $10 million is devoted to water and sewer loans approved for Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties through the Georgia Environmen-tal Facilities Authority (GEFA).

OneGeorgia’s funding also includes two primary components: namely the EDGE Fund and the Equity Fund. Both funds were allocated $10 million each to help eligible municipalities throughout the state address economic development issues. The Equity, Growth and Expansion (EDGE) Fund provides financial assistance to eligible applicants that are being considered as a relocation or expansion site and are competing with another state for location of a project. The Equity Fund will provide funding to Tier 1 and 2 communities to help build the necessary infrastructure for economic development.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible applicants for the Equity and EDGE funds are cities, counties, government authorities and joint or multi-county development authorities. Eligible uses of EDGE funds are the development of public infrastructure, land acquisition and site development. The Equity fund regulations were written to be very broad and flexible and can be used for a variety of activities to assist in preparation for economic development. Eligible projects include traditional economic development projects such as water and sewer projects, road, rail and airport improvements and industrial parks as well as workforce development projects, technology development or tourism development proposals. Special consideration is given to projects of regional significance.

Application Process

The OneGeorgia Authority will accept EDGE applications on an ongoing basis. The Equity Fund will be awarded on a competitive basis three times a year on March 30, July 31, and November 30. Since limited funding is available through both programs, projects should be considered for other sources of funds before applying for assistance. In addition, funding will be tied to performance-based criteria.

To date, the EDGE program has awarded over $5 million to seven projects. The projects funded are projected to create 1,754 new jobs and retain 300 existing jobs through the creation or expansion of businesses in the state. There have been two rounds of competition for the Equity Fund with a total of 30 projects awarded approximately $11.4 million in loans and grants.

For more details about the OneGeorgia Authority Funding or to view the county tier map visit their website at www.onegeorgia.org.

 

 

 


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