OneGeorgia Authority: Bridging Georgia's Economic Divide

Article excerpt

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 Environmental 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. …