The following is a statement from Roswell Inc Executive Director Steve Stroud. This article can be found in the Wed. June 17 edition of the Roswell Neighbor.
On June 3, the Governor’s Office announced that Courion, a market-leading identity and access management solutions provider, is moving its international headquarters to Roswell. This is fantastic news on a number of levels. In the world of economic development, this is the sort of call we dream of getting. When major companies like this move to our area, particularly companies with such stellar reputations, they contribute more than just recognition and prestige. They provide one of the most valuable things a community can offer their residents: good local jobs.
“Georgia has seen time and time again innovative companies such as Courion choose our state as their ideal place to do business,” Governor Nathan Deal said. “Our unique geographical setting and strong logistics framework provide direct access to key locations in the United States and abroad. This, coupled with our nationally recognized business climate, creates a globally preferred location for information security companies such as Courion to better reach their customers.”
Courion represents the growing number of innovative, high tech industries that are choosing to put down roots in Georgia red clay. Courion, primarily, deals with identity governance and administration. In their terms, they provide “solutions to confidently provide open and compliant access to thousands of employees while protecting critical company data and assets from unauthorized access.” This company is contracted by some of the most prestigious and well-known organizations in the world, including but not limited to Dell, Hasbro, Nationwide, SunTrust, Cox, Mednax and even the IRS.
“Courion is recognized as the technology pioneer in identity analytics, a segment within information security that is expected to expand rapidly in response to organizations’ needs to better prevent and detect data breaches,” Courion Chief Operating Officer Chris Papadakis said. “Locating our corporate headquarters in Roswell will enable us to take advantage of the hotbed for talent and innovation in information security that exists in the area.”
Companies such as Courion, GM and Yardi understand that Roswell is a hub for qualified, educated professionals looking to have it all. Because of our economic and geographic situation, not to mention our incomparable amenities, Roswell has strategically positioned itself as the perfect middle ground between urban and suburban with plenty of green space, top level schools, growing entertainment and a variety of housing. These corporations see the unlimited opportunity and are taking steps to embed themselves where the talent wants to live. This is reflected in our 4.8% unemployment rate, one of the lowest in the state.
As if all of that weren’t enough, there is another major incentive drawing business to Roswell. The Opportunity Zone Job Tax Credit Program is the highest and most user-friendly tax credit program in the state. While many surrounding communities chose not to take advantage of this offer, Roswell jumped in with both feet and began advertising. First, the city identified which areas seemed to be struggling. The boundary lines were drawn and the Opportunity Zone was established. From that point on, any business within the Opportunity Zone could apply for the tax credit program.
These businesses are eligible for a tax credit of $3500 per net new employee. This credit continues for five years, starting the year of the hire. Any business that pays Georgia income tax is eligible, no matter if they are a tiny mom and pop or a huge corporation. Only two new jobs need to be created in any one year to be eligible, and there is no upper limit on eligible jobs. What’s more, if the company’s state income tax liability is insufficient to absorb all of the credits, the balance may be taken by retaining employee withholding taxes that would otherwise be paid to the state. This allows the credit to be “cashed out” quickly and easily. The amounts retained by the company from employee withholding are exempt by law from Georgia income tax and may not be subject to federal income tax, so the company gets the full value of the credited dollars.
As of 2014, Roswell Inc had 180 businesses certified within the Opportunity Zone, taking full advantage of all of those dollars. Vacancy rates within the OZ dropped from 14.9% to just 12.8% in only one year, and they continue to drop. The number we are most proud of is the number of jobs created within the OZ. In 2013, we saw the creation of 1,385 jobs. The following year, we saw an additional 1,345 jobs created. Furthermore, a significantly large portion of these jobs were high-paying IT jobs.
Companies such as GM and Yardi, responsible for many of these new positions, chose Roswell because of the Opportunity Zone Job Tax Credit Program. This was also a major selling point for Courion, who will soon add an additional 100 jobs to Roswell over the next couple of years. The OZ in Roswell is the largest in the state with by far the most participants. The OZ will continue to operate until 2020, meaning we have five more years to attract businesses and create jobs with these tax credits. An OZ certified business could create a job on Dec. 31, 2019 and still receive 5 years worth of tax credits.
We at Roswell Inc are ecstatic about the success of the Opportunity Zone. Few things encourage economic development more than job creation, and this program put us on the fast track. Companies such as Courion are able to take this opportunity to create a hub for IT and tech professionals in the Atlanta area. The more jobs we create, the more Roswell grows and succeeds.
“Information security is thriving in Georgia, employing nearly 200,000 workers,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr. “Courion is an excellent addition to this growing network of companies. Having direct access to top talent and other pro-business resources, we look forward to seeing them advance the industry with operations here in Georgia.”