Several new businesses, possible tax breaks coming to downtown Augusta

News 12 6 o'clock / Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- If you've been in downtown Augusta lately, you may have noticed a few more "coming soon" signs. Several new businesses, including five restaurants, are coming to the area, which could mean big things for the local economy.

Musa Anderson is getting ready to open the doors to her new restaurant downtown.

"It's going to be totally British traditional pub, old school," Anderson said.

It's been a dream of her and her son's to open Boar's Head and now, it's a reality. She's part of a growing trend of small businesses moving downtown, helping to bring new life to the city.

"There are five new restaurants looking to open before the end of the year or right after the first of the year," Mayor Deke Copenhaver said.

Places like the new hot spot Whiskey Bar and Euros Bistro have just opened their doors, and it's more than just restaurants making their way downtown. The downtown district is starting to see more retail stores pop up, too, like Stationery Seffarri.

"I think a lot of people really want to come back downtown to the roots of things," Anderson said.

Many new business owners like Anderson say, with the new convention center set to open and the medical school growing, there's no time like the present to open a business downtown.

"It makes me feel really good and proud that I can be a part of the revitalization of downtown because that is really what's happening here," she said.

But it's not cheap to start your own business, something Anderson knows firsthand, saying, "I've been taken aback by all of the taxes that you get into and the bureaucracy of it all."

Mayor Copenhaver says he is working with state leaders to help give businesses moving downtown a break.

"We've come forward with the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Act at the state level. It will go into the hopper next year," he said.

The bill would provide tax cuts and incentives for people and business looking to move downtown and could even help get rid of some of the vacant spaces.

"Some of those empty storefronts would be filled up because we'd incentivize bringing them in state tax credits," he said.

And for small businesses owners like Anderson, the Renaissance Act would be a breath of fresh air.

"To start a business, a small business, it is very difficult with all the taxes, so if we get any break, it would be fabulous," Anderson said.

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