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Mystery company seeks Cobb tax breaks

A large international company is eyeing Cobb County for a research and development facility that could bring in more than 800 jobs, many well paid.

The company, whose name has not been released by Cobb officials, has begun the process of applying for tax breaks through the Cobb Development Authority under the code name “Project Dashboard.”

Nelson Geter, executive director of the authority, confirmed the authority had given preliminary approval this week to a $264 million bond issuance as part of a “bond-for-title” transaction. Under this arrangement, the development authority would temporarily take over the title for the property and the company would receive tax breaks for the next 10 years.

Geter said the project could bring 863 jobs paying an average annual salary of $100,000.

“These will be highly technical jobs, engineers, etc., but there will also be some supportive staff associated with it,” Geter said.

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The Development Authority has been criticized in the past for its generous incentives, such as the $1.8 million tax break it handed Tyler Perry to keep his private jet in Cobb.

Clark Hungerford, the chairman of the authority, declined to give an estimate of the abatement under consideration for Project Dashboard.

“At this point we just have the preliminary inducement resolution, so we don’t know what the final projection will be,” Hungerford said. “If we are selected and we have the details on the project, then we will be happy to reveal it at that time.”

The company behind “Project Dashboard” is eyeing property owned by the Atlanta Braves off Circle 75, near SunTrust Park in Cumberland for a long-term lease. The Braves declined to comment.

Cobb Chairman Mike Boyce said the county was approached by the state about the project, which he welcomed.

He defended the use of incentives to lure businesses to the county, arguing the abatement is temporary.

“Incentives are all part of the business environment,” Boyce said. “One of the reasons we have one of the lowest millage rates [in the metro area] is because we have a solid business foundation.”

The Development Authority is scheduled to meet with the School Board Thursday to discuss the project before it can proceed for final approval.

Staff writer J. Scott Trubey contributed to this report

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