When the Social House, a full menu sports bar, opened its doors last month, owner Todd Scott selected its location in downtown Porterdale because he had fallen in love with the Newton County city.
“It’s got great potential and they’re right on the edge of doing something big,” he said. “This city is the most wonderful municipality to work with when it comes to starting a business. They’ve been very helpful.”
“When a new business comes to us, we make it as easy as possible [for them to open],” said Porterdale Mayor Arline Chapman, “because we are trying to build up our business community. We need to build our economy as well as bring new people into the community.”
Chapman, who formerly worked for the State of Georgia, said when needed, she will put in a call to the state. “I usually tell them I’m a mayor of an emerging community and the departments I’ve spoken to have been very cooperative.”
The Mill Lofts, residential and retail space carved out of the restored Bibb Manufacturing Company property on the Yellow River, brought new life into the historic mill town, Chapman said.
“The people who move here want shops, want to have a selection of restaurants, [recreational activities] to do along the river,” she said. “Having a downtown business district is a very important part of Porterdale being an emerging community.”
The downtown area of Porterdale, which runs northeast from the river to the Julia A. Porter Memorial United Methodist Church area, is a Georgia Department of Community Affairs Opportunity Zone. A local government qualifies for the designation when it undertakes redevelopment and revitalization of older commercial and industrial areas.
Like most of Porterdale’s downtown area, The Social House is in an Opportunity Zone and qualifies for a $3,500 tax credit for each job created.
“We need business to increase our economic activity,” said Bob Thomson, City Manager. Businesses make Porterdale a more attractive place for people to live. “If people see bare store fronts, they move on.”
Businesses interested in the opportunity zone and its advantages can meet with Thomson or Main Street Porterdale Director Teri Haler, he said. “[We] can get them in touch with the State Department of Community Affairs and the tax advantages available.”