Opportunity Zones Already Making A Difference

Encouraging development in East Greensboro is topic that has been on the front burner for years with limited success.

Sixth District Congressman Mark Walker and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott were in at the Gateway Research Park at 2901 E. Gate City Blvd in Greensboro on Friday, May 10 to talk about Opportunity Zones which were created by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. They said the Opportunity Zone tax incentive program is going to spur development in economically distressed areas across the nation, and more to the point in East Greensboro.

Opportunity Zones are the brainchild of Scott, who pushed to get the legislation included in the 2017 tax reform bill.

The simple explanation for the way Opportunity Zones work is that investors can defer or for a long term investment forgo paying capital gains tax, by investing in an Opportunity Zone. Ten census tracts in Greensboro which include much of the Central Business District and East Greensboro were certified by the state as meeting the criteria and declared Opportunity Zones.

Scott said that over $100 billion had already been raised nationwide to invest in Opportunity Zones. A few projects have actually started, and since the Internal Revenue Service recently released the regulations governing Opportunity Zone investments, it is expected that more projects will get started this year.  Some investment groups have built up large funds, identified sites and have been waiting for the IRS regulations to move forward.

Scott said, “One of my mentors was Jack Kemp and his Enterprise Zones.”  Scott said the big difference in the Opportunity Zone program is that it is designed to attract private investment which will raise property values and create jobs in economically distressed areas.

Scott said that programs that provided government funding for designated areas never seemed to be able to break the cycle of poverty in those communities, but attracting private investment would bring in the capital necessary to provide people with an avenue to success.

Scott said that the legislation had already had an effect with property values in Opportunity Zones increasing by 20 percent and wages increasing by over 8 percent this year when the national average was 3.2 percent.

Walker said that there were investors in Greensboro like Roy Carroll, Marty Kotis and others who he believed would take advantage of the Opportunity Zone tax incentives and invest in East Greensboro.  Carroll, is the owner of the Carroll Companies which owns this publication.