EFFINGHAM COUNTY, GA (WTOC) - City officials in Springfield say five new businesses are coming to the downtown district. One of them is even bringing a pizza oven all the way from Naples, Italy.
The new businesses include a pizzeria, a new restaurant in the old Blockers building, and more shops in the old Waltz Furniture store building.
Rebecca Wasson with the Springfield Merchants Association has lived in Effingham County most of her life. When the bypass was built around Springfield, she said she watched the businesses leave one by one.
“Then it went lower. It was kind of sad to come downtown," Wasson said. "Since we’ve been here and more and more businesses have come in, it’s like what I remember as a child.”
Remembering what Laurel Street once was provides Wasson with the proof of what the downtown district can become again.
Now, five redevelopment projects are in the works that include three restaurants. These businesses are getting an incentive. The city manager, Brett Bennett, said this tax break is a part of a program with the state of Georgia and also a vital reason businesses are popping up.
“When we were rewarded, that offers tax credits for all investments into the acquisition of property, the rehabilitation of property and for jobs created,” Bennett said.
The property investment will see a 35 percent tax credit with a $2,000 dollar tax credit for every job that business brings in.
“The thing I always say to the city council is, ‘Look, guys. If we don’t do something, we can just sit here and dry up or we can be proactive and we can be aggressive and we can try to change the trend at which we are going,’ and I think we’ve been pretty successful,” Bennett said.
The streets are filled with customers at lunch time, but during the night, the congestion dies down. City officials say they hope these three new restaurants will fill that void.
“Nothing makes me happier than to look out this window when I’m working and see people walking on the streets and crossing the streets and coming in and out of the restaurants."
All of these projects have timelines starting and ending in 2019, a time when locals like Rebecca say new beginnings will start for Springfield.
"I think it's just going to open up more doors to everybody. We are all excited all the merchants are excited."