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Tri-state officials: Impact of 'opportunity zones' remains to be seen « Back to Search Results

Several tri-state areas have been approved to participate in a federal program to encourage  development in low-income areas. 


However, local officials are still uncertain how exactly these “opportunity zones” will be implemented. 


Multiple census tracts in Dubuque were approved for distinction in the program, which was created by the Investing in Opportunity Act, a component of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. 
 
In opportunity zones, officials work to promote investment in low-income communities by providing investors with a capital gains tax deferral. 


In order to qualify, at least 20 percent of residents in a census tract must live in a household earning 80 percent or less of an area’s specified median income. The designations are set to last for 10 years. 


Sixty-two census tracts were approved recently by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the Opportunity Zone designation. Two such tracts are in Dubuque. 


The approved zones comprise Chaplain Schmitt Island, the Kerper Boulevard Industrial Park, the Central Avenue corridor, the Millwork District and South Port of Dubuque. 


Rick Dickinson, president and CEO of Greater Dubuque Development Corp., said the program should be beneficial for developing lower-income areas. However, he said federal officials haven’t specified how the program will be implemented. 


“The value of the program remains to be seen,” Dickinson said. “It’s a program that is in its infancy, and no one is exactly sure how we will monetize this.” 


Dickinson said he and city officials most likely will receive more information in the next few months. 


A portion of Maquoketa, Iowa, also received an opportunity zone designation. It includes a large eastern portion of the city, including its industrial park. 


David Heiar, director of Jackson County Economic Alliance, said he and other local officials recommended the entirety of Maquoketa receive the designation. 


He said it’s too early to tell how beneficial the program will be, but it could provide another selling point for investment in Maquoketa. 


“We’re still waiting on the details for how exactly it will work,” Heiar said. “It should provide that extra incentive for any potential investment.” (Full Article)

BY JOHN KRUSE john.kruse@thmedia.com 

Reposted with permission from TH Media