Tax incentives could bring Panera Bread to Athens

Panera Bread has shown interest in opening a store in Athens and now the city has created a proposal consisting of $250,000 worth of incentives

Posted: Aug 13, 2018 6:11 PM
Updated: Aug 13, 2018 7:35 PM

The City of Athens has pulled the voting on a proposal to lure a famous chain restaurant to the area that has some local business owners saying it is a bit unfair. Panera Bread has shown interest in opening a store in Athens and now the city has created a proposal consisting of $250,000 worth of incentives. The proposal was originally intended to be heard and voted on at Monday's city council meeting.

Panera Bread could be coming to Athens, but at a cost.

"It's about five times as much money as we spent to buy this store," Chrystalline Lauryl said.

The Athens City Council will take a look at the $250,000 of tax break incentives. Chrystalline Lauryl is a co-owner of a small business in Athens and thinks the city offering that kind of money is unfair.

"Taking sides, picking favorites," Lauryl said. "I don't know about that."

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks sees this as a positive for the community. He said not only does it help build the city and bring reputable businesses into the area, but it also brings jobs.

"...About 40 new jobs [and] several million dollars of investment," Marks said.

Marks says these incentive packages aren't anything new either, he tells WAAY31 in 2015, Buffalo Wild Wings was approved to receive $220,000 in incentives in order to come to the city.

"A $250,000 investment, then that's close to a four year return on investment, and that's how I look at it," Marks said.

Marks believes the restaurant would be another step in the economic development of Athens and Lauryl understands that.

"It does show that they are paying attention and trying to take steps to make things better," Lauryl said.

At this time, the City of Athens does not have a new date scheduled for when the city council will vote on the proposal.

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