How Smaller Cities Are Trying to Attract Opportunity Zone Investors

Cities and states are altering local policies to maximize benefits for private investors in Opportunity Zones.
May 1, 2019, 11am PDT | Elana Eden
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South Carolina Opportunity Zones
The federal Opportunity Zone program is spurring cities and states to reform land-use, economic development, and tax policies. In Governing, J. Brian Charles expounds on policy steps cities and states around the country are taking to make themselves more attractive to private development and investment:

"West Virginia lawmakers are looking at an income tax exemption for new opportunity zone investment. Florida is trying to align its opportunity zones with preexisting enterprise zones, which would give investors the benefits of both programs. In Connecticut, some legislators want to exempt historic preservation requirements in opportunity zones if the building has been vacant for more than five years. Maryland lawmakers are considering two bills -- one that would offer tax credits to opportunity zone businesses that hire former inmates and another that would offer historic preservation tax credits to businesses that locate in opportunity zones ...

At the local level, five mayors -- of Erie, Pa.; Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma City; South Bend, Ind., and Stockton, Calif. -- have released an investment plan aimed at attracting opportunity zone investment."
Small and mid-sized cities in particular hope to take advantage of the Opportunity Zone designation to better compete with bigger cities. Local policies that align with the federal program might encourage investors to take "the best deal in OKC" rather than "the 200th best deal in Los Angeles," as Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt put it.
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Published on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 in Governing
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