Along with the rest of the country, Georgia continues to fight its way out of the Great Recession. With that in mind, I wonder how many Georgians have considered what they can do to help the State realize a stronger and faster recovery. And for those willing to pitch in, do they know what to do?
A healthier state economy benefits us all. Schools, courts, hospitals, parks and playgrounds are built, expanded and refurbished. There are more firefighters and more police patrols, keeping us safer. Public agencies return to regular staffing levels so the government runs smoothly. When the state does well, our quality of life gets better.
In my experience, many Georgians are unaware of opportunities created by state lawmakers to push Georgia closer to a full economic recovery. Many of these measures are directed at making it easier for small businesses to start and grow. Lawmakers created these measures because small businesses create new jobs locally, occupy nearby empty office space, and pay state and city taxes here. Supporting the growth of small business is a classic “win-win.”
Several of these great Georgia initiatives will prove to be entirely useless unless the general public knows about them and puts them into action. Some of these key initiatives are the Invest Georgia Exemption, the Invest Georgia Venture Capital fund and the Angel Investor Tax Credit.
The Invest Georgia Exemption gives all Georgia residents an opportunity to easily invest in Georgia-based businesses. By providing capital to a Georgia business, Georgians are giving it some of the funds it needs to get started or to grow. In exchange, the investor becomes a part owner in that particular business and share in any profits distributed to shareholders. This process is called “equity crowdfunding.” Several Georgia-based portals make investing through crowdfunding an easy way to get involved. (Disclaimer: I am the CEO of one of them, SterlingFunder).
The Georgia Angel Investor Tax Credit is another initiative by the legislature to help spur investments in early-stage, Georgia-based business. This law furnishes a state tax credit to angel investors who provide capital to qualified Georgia-based companies. Speak to an accountant about eligibility, but this may help you to invest in early-stage businesses.
The Invest Georgia Venture Capital Fund is a $100,000,000.00 fund intended to fuel investments in Georgia companies over a five year period. Forty-percent of these funds will go to early-stage companies, with the balance going to companies in the growth stage. While this law has passed, the state legislature has only appropriated a percentage of $100 million total. You can help my encouraging your local representatives to fully appropriate this fund, as well as encourage local business you aware of to seek out investments from this fund.
There has also been legislative action to spur the funding of small businesses that do not depend on Georgians to take action, but are still important. Most notably, new laws allow pension funds for Georgia firefighters and teachers to invest in alternative investments – like early-stage businesses — to grow those funds more rapidly.
The City of Atlanta is working hard too, with Invest Atlanta, a program of Atlanta’s Development Authority. Invest Atlanta provides tax incentives and bonds for property development, loans for small business expansion and start-up and uses other incentives to promote Atlanta as a great home for small businesses.
For many of these initiatives to have an impact, Georgians need to know about them and get involved. Good economic programs are not, by themselves, enough to hasten the full economic rebound we need. Georgians should get involved, and a great way to do that is to support new and early-stage businesses through investment, word-of-mouth and patronage. Ultimately, this will benefit you, your children, your community and our entire State.