Fulton County draws, retains commerce
BY JONATHAN COPSEY
It’s probably fair to say the Great Recession is far behind us, but the economy is still rebounding and still growing to get back to where it once was.
Part of the delay was caused by a lack of capital; the same banks at the center of the recession were responsible for giving loans to businesses who want to start or expand. With no new loans come no new businesses.
There are many tools in the economic toolbox for governments to help businesses, and one of those tools in the metro area, especially Fulton County, is through the Development Authority of Fulton County. Since 2012, the DAFC estimates it helped create or save more than 45,500 jobs by issuing or securing bonds worth nearly $5 billion.
This money went toward luring new businesses to the county or helping established businesses stay and expand. All this is a benefit to the county, said Rusty Paul, with ISquared Communications, a marketing firm working with DAFC.
“[The DAFC’s] primary responsibility is to make sure businesses that want to locate or expand here have the financial resources to do that successfully,” Paul said. “They have done this fairly effectively.”
Paul said many large companies headquartered in Fulton County have taken advantage of the DAFC’s services to help expand their footprints.
“By helping them get financing to stay, expand or relocate is a huge incentive,” he said. “Without capital for a new facility, the relocation may not occur.”
Fulton’s development authority is independently funded, Paul said, using no taxpayer funds. They sustain themselves through interest given on the bonds.
Entities such as the DAFC provide bonds and financing that banks may not be able to do and at rates better than the banks. Last year, 2014, was the busiest the DAFC has ever been. With an estimated 29,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in bonds issued, that can mean a lot of new development in the region’s economy.
The development authority made their largest amount of financing deals ever in 2014. In all, 24 bond inducements were issued, totaling $2.5 billion in financing.
The prior year, $1.7 billion was issued, helping create or keep an estimated 15,000 jobs. The year before that, 2012, had $380 million in bonds issued, helping 1,500 jobs.
All this money translates into plenty of enticement to either keep companies in Fulton County, or lure them into doing business there.
Development authorities are a growing tool to spur economic development. In the metro Atlanta area, the counties of Fulton, Clayton, DeKalb, Rockdale and Henry have such authorities and, according to DAFC, often work collaboratively. Together, they cover a quarter of Georgia’s population.