Thursday, November 8, 2012
As two newly elected East Ridge City Council members prepare to take office, the city is also preparing to capitalize on the “border region retail tourism development district” designation it was given by the state earlier this year, a campaign point for some of the candidates.
“It’s not going to be something that happens overnight, but we’re much closer [to capitalizing on the designation] than we were a few months ago,” said City Manager Tim Gobble.
The designation will ultimately allow the city to provide large-scale developments within the designated 950-acre region with incentives to build retail and tourism sites there. Those incentives will be paid for through a state tax program that allows the city to net 75 percent of the region’s state sales tax in order to fund the incentives.
“Those incentives can come in the form of a number of things,” said Gobble. “We may want to purchase properties and get it pad-ready to attract retail, or we may do something as simple as target a Publix or something like that.”
In order to get the new program officially up and running, a “triggering event” must occur that launches the program into motion. According to Gobble, East Ridge is still in discussions with the state about exactly what is considered a “triggering event” and the city hopes to have an answer on that soon.
He said the recent Jordan Crossing development could be considered a “triggering event.”
“We know the development is looking to attract a number of businesses to that area,” said Gobble of the Jordan Crossing development site near Camp Jordan.
One of the next steps the city may be taking to help capitalize on the border region designation is creating an economic development council.
“It’s one way to manage this process and there’s a lot of advantages to doing that,” said Gobble of the potential board. “It could play an important and instrumental role in this process.”
The City Council will be the body that determines whether or not an economic development council is approved or reactivated, he said. In the meantime, Gobble said the city is working to do what it can to attract more business.
“We’re continuing to spread the word and let people know that East Ridge is open for business,” he said. “We’re just trying to encourage people to support and look beyond the immediate and see big changes that could come to East Ridge in terms of retail and tourism.”
Under the border region retail tourism development district designation, Gobble said the city has a total of 30 years to use the benefits. The first 20 years are designated for implementation development, while the last 10 are earmarked for paying off any debts and finishing projects, he said.