CASE STUDY

Tourism regional team facilitates northwest Georgia amusement park expansion, increased visitation

OVERVIEW

Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park (Lake Winnie) opened in Rossville, Ga., in June 1925 as a family-owned swimming and picnicking park. For 90 years, families have been making the northwest Georgia destination part of their vacation plans, and the park has grown to include thrill rides and amusements for all ages. Lake Winnie has been recognized by Travel + Leisure as one of America?s Top 10 Family Amusement Parks.

CHALLENGE

Primarily featuring roller coasters and other thrill rides, Lake Winnie wanted to increase attendance and retain customers that were being drawn to combination amusement/water parks in the Southeast. Meanwhile, in 2011, the state legislature passed the Georgia Tourism Development Act (TDA), which authorized tax credits to promote the development of new tourism attractions or expansions of existing tourism attractions. Under the law, projects must cost a minimum of $1 million, attract at least 25 percent of their visitors from out of state by the third year, and must not directly compete with existing Georgia businesses. Approved projects can recover state sales tax revenues equivalent to as much as 25 percent of the development costs over a 10-year period.

Attraction:

? Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park

Expansion Project:

? Soak Ya Water Park

New jobs:

? Seasonal: 60 ? Full-time: 3

Investment:

? $6 million

Incentive:

? The Georgia Tourism Development Act (TDA), which authorizes tax credits for qualifying projects. Approved projects can recover state sales tax revenues equivalent to as much as 25 percent of the development costs over a 10-year period.

State Partners:

? Georgia Department of Economic Development, Tourism Division ? Georgia Department of Community Affairs ? Georgia Department of Revenue ? Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority

Georgia Travel Region:

? Historic High Country In 2012, Lake Winnie began planning a $6 million water park that would be incorporated into its existing location. The project was designed to comply with the TDA in order to qualify for the tax credits, but the TDA became stalled as the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Tourism Division and the Georgia Department of Revenue worked out the implementation process. Park owners began to question whether they would be able to take advantage of the credits. In 2013, the state legislature adopted a revised version of the TDA that resolved the implementation problems posed in the first version. DCA became the agency charged with oversight of TDA applications and projects, and the act required that commissioners of both GDEcD and DCA approve the TDA applications.

MarketGeorgia.org

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