Atlanta and its surrounding counties are experiencing an economic boom but many rural communities in Georgia are being left behind. GARJA was designed to give rural communities a boost by creating tax credits to drive investment in Georgia counties with populations of 50,000 or less.

What does this mean for you? If you are an entrepreneur with a business in a rural Georgia county this could be a big boost for you. Businesses need capital to grow and create jobs. In some cases, banks are unable to provide this capital. In these situations, “private capital” is needed to invest in and grow the business.

Friends and family are often tapped for this capital, but those sources have their limits. Borrowing from friends and family can also have a lot of negative consequences if things do not go as planned. I’ve heard it said that Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t taste the same when you owe the person across the table money.

The next sources for entrepreneurs are venture capital or private equity. This kind of money can be extremely hard to get – especially if you do not live in one of a few major metropolitan areas. Lack of capital stifles job growth. GARJA was created to be part of the solution.

The state chose capital partners (like the ones that play in those big metropolitan areas) to help get the money out to the right businesses in rural Georgia.

What is a right business for this program? Businesses will need to meet the requirements of the state and convince their chosen capital partner that they are a good risk and can grow jobs. The state requires that businesses meet the following criteria:

– Principal business operations must be in one or more rural Georgia counties – defined as 50,000 residents or less.

– Have less than 250 employees at the time of funding.

– Be in an eligible NAICS code.

Fund partners will likely require businesses they invest in to have the following:

– A good history of profitable operations or the ability to become profitable using the capital invested.

– Strong history of job creation and the ability to create more jobs with the capital invested.

– Need $1 million to $6 million of capital.

– Have 10 or more employees.

– $4 million or more of gross revenue.

Georgia has allocated $60 million of tax credits to create $100 million of investment in our rural counties. Capital partners must invest these funds over the next two years. This is a great opportunity for rural businesses to get the capital they need to grow and create jobs.

If you would like to learn more about the Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act or have a business growth question you’d like me to answer, you can reach me at cfowler@valuesdrivenresults.