South Carolina boasts over 130 ‘opportunity zones’ that could bring tax benefits

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Three hundred and fifty people from over 20 states gathered Thursday at the Greenville Convention Center to network and learn more about investing in specific areas across South Carolina called “opportunity zones.”

Opportunity zones are areas within designated communities where investors can get a tax break for bringing things like jobs or affordable housing. Over 130 places across South Carolina, including Greenville, Anderson, Pickens and Spartanburg, are now opportunity zones.

The initiative was spearheaded by South Carolina state Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina).

“I would like to see more of the residents who are living in the opportunity zones become eligible for the jobs that are entering in the communities, and benefit from the low interest loans that hopefully that will be developed through a socially-conscious investment strategy, as well as the renovation of properties. If we can see the uneven recovery become more even, that would be a fantastic concept,” said Scott.

Opportunity zones are a part of the federal tax cuts and jobs act of 2017 and the only government program that allows investors to compound their money, tax free, for nearly 30 years.

“They use the 2010 Census data, and from that data they picked out areas that were good, but not too good … and bad but not too bad — areas that are more transitioning,” said
Mark Elliott, managing partner, SC Opportunity Fund,
“And they use the census data to decide that based on income, average household wealth — so there’s zones all over the place.”

Lawmakers and other community leaders hope this will encourage businesses and other private investors to take their money to smaller towns and cities and help them grow.

“The whole city of Travelers Rest is an opportunity zone, so for us, this is a big deal because we can use this as a vehicle to bring in investors, spur economic development, but also this is all about community,” said Brandy Amidon, mayor of Travelers Rest, “So, using this tax credit gives the community an opportunity to invest — and make it for the long haul, too.”