A new state audit raises questions about government oversight of the vast web of local economic development authorities across Georgia that have financed or awarded tens of billions in job recruitment incentives.
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Payouts to development authorities
Taxpayer money flows to local development authorities in the form of state grants and loans designed to encourage economic development. In the past 10 years the Georgia Department of Community Affairs has awarded 504 grants and loans totaling $323.4 million. The top programs were:
OneGA-Edge Fund — $ 142.6 million. For rural Georgia communities who are competing for business with a community outside the state.
OneGA-Equity Fund — $51.4 million. To assist rural communities with building infrastructure for economic development.
Regional Economic Business Assistance — $81.7 million. To help Georgia lure companies who are considering moving or expanding their business.
Source: Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, OneGeorgia Authority.
A review by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this year found that nearly half of the firms that received awards through two “deal-closing” grant programs failed to create the promised number of jobs, but that state officials rarely recouped the money. Today’s story focuses on an audit of the vast network of development authorities that help channel those funds, and concerns about their transparency and accountability.