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State Rep. introduces act to encourage downtown investment

Rep. Allen Peake with Covington Main Street Manger Josephine Kelly, Councilmember Janet Goodman and Councilmember Hawnethia Williams. Peake's Renaissance Act is supported by Main Street Covington. - Special Photo

Rep. Allen Peake with Covington Main Street Manger Josephine Kelly, Councilmember Janet Goodman and Councilmember Hawnethia Williams. Peake's Renaissance Act is supported by Main Street Covington. - Special Photo

ATLANTA -- State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, introduced the Georgia Renaissance Act on Monday, Jan. 28, to the General Assembly. The act is designed to encourage downtown investments in commercial and residential property through state income tax credits and is supported by Main Street Covington.

The Renaissance Act, House Bill 128, would appropriate $20 million per year in statewide tax incentives ranging from 10 to 25 percent for investments in new construction or renovations of existing buildings within Renaissance Districts. In addition, the act would appropriate $5 million per year in statewide tax incentives for the purchase and/or significant improvements of downtown housing and $5 million per year in statewide tax incentives for individual or corporate contributions to the Georgia Renaissance Fund. Proceeds of the fund would be used for low-interest loans for downtown projects, partnering with the Downtown Revolving Loan funds available through the Georgia Cities Foundation and DCA that are in high demand.

"Downtowns are economic drivers for the city and the broader community," said Peake, who addressed downtown development professionals at the Department of Community Affairs' Main Street luncheon on Monday. "Vibrant downtowns grow jobs, increase the tax digest, generate sales tax, stimulate private investment throughout the city and county and help define a community's quality of life."

The legislation is the end result of a two-year study and committee work by the Georgia Municipal Association, the Georgia Cities Foundation, the University of Georgia and over 1,000 Georgians, including legislators, who participated in focus groups, on-line surveys and personal interviews about the importance and future of downtowns across the state.

"The Renaissance Act embodies a basic premise that healthy and vibrant downtowns are vital to Georgia's economic development future," Peake said. "Downtowns are the heart of a community, the pulse of the local economy, a barometer of our quality of life and play an integral part in defining the Georgia brand."