Study: Cumberland boom, spurred by new residents, generates over $145M for local tax revenues

Mar. 24—CUMBERLAND — A new study commissioned by the Cumberland Community Improvement District found the Cobb commercial hub to be an $18 billion economic engine for the county.

Over the last two years, revenues in the district — which extends along I-285 from Vinings to the Chattahoochee River — grew by some $73 million, shrugging off the pandemic's economic fallout.

Cumberland, reliant on commercial real estate and tourism as major revenue sources, could have been particularly susceptible to the vagaries of COVID. But KB Advisory Group's Jonathan Gelber, presenting the study to the CID's board Thursday, said growth has been "incredible, especially considering the last two years have been a doozy."

The top line items in Gelber's study claim the CID is annually generating some $23.6 billion in economic impact — the value of all goods and services produced — across the state, and $18 billion in Cobb. Those figures include not just the direct benefits of businesses in the area, but the ripple effects which flow to suppliers and consumers.

Also since 2019, the district has added 10,000 jobs, now sitting at around 83,500.

As a whole, the study found Cumberland is a cash cow for Cobb County government and the Cobb School District. The CID generates some $2.55 in revenue for every dollar of services spent by the county, and $3.63 for every dollar from the Cobb County School District, numbers CID board member Bob Voyles said were appropriate for a largely commercial district.

Property, sales, hotel/motel taxes and more put some $64.3 million and $75.7 million into county and school district coffers, respectively. Adding in sales tax revenues that go to Cobb's cities and Marietta City Schools, the CID as a whole generates north of $145 million in tax revenue for local entities.

Thanks to significant tax breaks given to new projects, however, the area's in fact underpaying for some of its value. Though Cumberland's tax value ballooned from $3 billion to almost $5 billion since 2015, a raft of exemptions since 2017 have kept property tax revenues relatively flat.

"A lot of the stuff that currently is abated will come off abatement in the coming years, and we'll be back on track," Gelber said.

Though offices and retail remain big drivers of the area, recent development growth has been driven largely by residential units.

"We had a big boom in the late 90s, and then it's very, very sleepy. Then sometime around here, something happened. I'm not sure what it was," Gelber joked, gesturing to 2013 when the Braves announced their move to Cobb.

Consistent with the upscale urbanity of the booming district, the study found Cumberland to be home to a more diverse, more educated, and younger crowd. The area's millennial population is double that of Cobb County at-large, with a nearly 20% higher rate of residents who hold a college degree.

Housing-wise, some 75% of units are in large apartment complexes; that figure is just 22% in the single-family home-dominated county.

CID leaders praised the study's findings in a news release circulated Thursday.

"When the CID was established 34 years ago, no one dreamed we would be seeing these kinds of figures today," said John Shern, board chairman.

Kim Menefee, the CID's executive director, told the MDJ, "I can think everyone can see how vibrant the CID is, and it really illustrates and validates our investments."