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West Lowndes County to enter GAP program


William Browning



Lowndes County supervisors have passed a resolution paving the way for a portion of west Lowndes County to take part in an incentive program that will give businesses that locate to the area a tax break. 


During a meeting Friday, Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins told supervisors a portion of District 5 has been deemed eligible for the Growth and Prosperity Program, which is designed to encourage development in economically challenged areas of Mississippi. 


The Mississippi Development Authority deems a county, or district within a county, eligible for what is known as the GAP program if the area's unemployment rate is 200 percent of the state's annual unemployment rate or if 30 percent of the population is below the federal poverty rate. If a business agrees to locate inside a GAP-designated area and creates 10 or more jobs, it is exempt from paying state sales tax, franchise tax and corporate income tax for 10 years. 


The section of District 5 eligible to take part in the GAP program borders Oktibehha County and covers an eight-mile square that encompasses the Golden Triangle Industrial Aerospace Park and the town of Artesia. 


"We think it's a pretty valuable tool" in recruiting businesses to the area, Higgins said. "It doesn't really cost the county anything extra. But it gives the county at least three things to offer that we have not been able to offer." 


Supervisors passed the resolution unanimously. The next step is for the LINK to finish the application and send it to MDA officials. It is expected to be approved by the MDA by March, Higgins said. 


Oktibehha County was recently deemed eligible for the GAP program. Seventeen other Mississippi counties are eligible for GAP designation, including Noxubee. Higgins said a portion of Lowndes County District 4 has been part of GAP program for several years, as well. 


Now, with a section of District 5 eligible, Higgins is excited about what the LINK can offer potential businesses looking to locate or expand in the area. 


"It is a very lucrative incentive and gives us another tool in our belt to promote the area," he said after Friday's meeting. 


The tax breaks are given to manufacturers, processors, warehousing businesses and distributors that locate in the area. Retail and gaming businesses, along with electrical generation facilities, are not eligible to participate in the program, according to the MDA. 


Higgins said MDA officials re-evaluate a county's eligibility each year. If a business enters the GAP program while the county is eligible, however, the business receives its 10-year tax break even if the county is deemed ineligible for the GAP program later.


William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.



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