Roswell refines its ability to attract small businesses Featured

8:01pm EDT March 31, 2012
Roswell refines its ability to attract small businesses

The city of Roswell, Ga., is in the final stages of creating its first strategic economic development plan, with an eye toward more aggressively attracting small companies to do business within its borders.

A major component of the plan will be finetuning the list of business types the city seeks to target, says Bill Keir, Roswell’s economic development manager.

“We have a list we’re looking at that will be refined,” Keir says. “It includes health care and social assistance, technical research, consulting and corporate operations, entertainment and recreation, and local and regional data and goods distribution. And each of those categories have a number of subgroups within them. We’re going to narrow that list down, based on who we have here now, who’s been moving here, what companies are in a growth mode, those kinds of factors.”

Asked to list the characteristics of Roswell that draw small businesses, Keir cites the city’s highway accessibility, labor costs, tax exemptions, occupancy costs, construction costs, state and local incentives, crime rate, and the quality of its schools. Roswell consistently ranks high in all of those areas in surveys conducted by the trade magazines Site Selection and Area Development.

One important incentive the city offers businesses is the Roswell Opportunity Zone, a job tax credit program administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

“We have the only Opportunity Zone program in Fulton County north of the Chattahoochee River,” Keir says. “That has been a competitive advantage for us.”

In order to become eligible for the program, a company needs to create two new jobs in a single year.

“Those jobs receive a $3,500 tax credit per job for five years,” Keir says. “We’ve had the program for a year, and we’re in it for at least another nine years. So anywhere in that period of time, if a company adds a couple of jobs or more in one year, they can get into the program and stay with it. Obviously, that can add up to significant savings.”

Roswell doesn’t have much vacant land available for development. It’s a city of small businesses, and it’s destined to remain that way. So attracting small companies will remain its focus.

“We’re fairly well developed,” Keir says. “We have a few parcels that are not fully developed, or not developed at all — but just a few.

“So that’s who we are. We have approximately 5,200 businesses. Twenty-seven of those have 100 or more employees. All the rest have less than 100. That’s normally considered small business. That’s who we cater to.”

HOW TO REACH: Roswell Economic Development Department, (770) 594-6170, www.roswellgov.com/index.aspx?nid=173

QUICK INFO

County: Fulton

Incorporated: 1854

Population: 88,346 (2010 Census)

Land area: 42 square miles

Government system: Mayor-Council

Mayor: Jere Wood

City Administrator: Kay Love

Phone: (770) 641-3727

Web: www.roswellgov.com