Monday | March 26, 2018

Summerville, Ridgeville among S.C. locations nominated for community development program

More than 130 low-income communities across the state, including a handful in Dorchester and Berkeley counties, have been proposed by Gov. Henry McMaster as possible “opportunity zones” that could see more private investment thanks to a federal tax incentive program meant to stir economic development in those areas.

Most of the targeted locations are in need of added infrastructure and affordable housing, according to a press release from the governor’s office. They are among 135 urban and rural communities across the state nominated for the Opportunity Zones program.

In the next 30 days the U.S. Department of Treasury will make a decision on the zones pending approval. Congress created the program, an initiative of South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, last year through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

"This means tens of thousands of folks across every one of our counties will see a brighter future due to a stronger local economy, a surge in job growth, and the potential revitalization of entire neighborhoods,” Scott said in the release.

The nominated census tracts were among nearly 540 low-income communities identified in South Carolina, where the theme the last few years has been high cost of living and workforce shortages, the release said. McMaster, along with governors in other states, nominated 25 percent of the tracts deemed most distressed and in need of aid.

The purpose of the initiative is to promote long-term private investment and economic vitality in the specified zones. This will be done through incentivizing taxpayers who reinvest unrealized capital gains into funds known as opportunity funds—funds dedicated to investment in the named zones, the release said.

In the long run, residents in the targeted communities will be able to reap the benefit of added jobs and affordable housing, even as the population totals continue to rise.

McMaster made sure that his nominations included at least one urban and one rural community from each county, he said. Local governments also submitted reasons for why their area could attract private investors in the future and to what extent poverty has impacted the area—some areas having experienced low wages and lack of economic opportunity for a prolonged period; and others from a single event like the shutdown of the nuclear reactor project.

The list includes three communities in Dorchester County and four in Berkeley County. The Dorchester communities encompass parts of Ridgeville, St. George and the Brownsville communities where poverty rates are as high as 24.5 percent. The Berkeley tracts include parts of Ridgeville, Bonneau, St. Stephen and Moncks Corner.

On Friday McMaster announced news of the nominated tracts and program and stated in the release how he looks forward to witnessing its positive impact.

“We’re confident that we’ve been able to implement a collaborative approach to designating these communities – with input from local governments across the state – that will eventually mean further private investment and economic growth in the areas that need it most,” he said.

For more information on the program and proposed areas visit scopportunityzone.com.


By:  Jenna Ley-Harrison
Source: The Summerville Journal Scene
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