Opportunity Zones explained at symposium at The Studio

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, November 6, 2019

People from across the Wiregrass came to Troy Tuesday to hear more about “Opportunity Zones” created in 2017 to foster investment incentives in disadvantaged areas.

“Qualified Opportunity Zones” were created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities throughout the country.

Parts of Troy and Pike County are included within these zones.

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In Troy, a portion from U.S. Highway 231 to Elm Street Road has been selected by Gov. Kay Ivey as an  Opportunity Zone, giving incentive for investors to commit money into the areas that may not be as attractive without some incentive.

Alex Flachsbart, founder and CEO of Opportunity Alabama, talked to participants about some of the project examples that have already taken place in cities such as Birmingham, and gave deeper insight into what an opportunity zone really is, and how communities can take advantage of them.

Arden Blackwell, a Troy University graduate that now serves on the board of the AACDC, explained the importance of opportunity zones.

“The current administration passed the Tax Cut and Jobs Act in 2017 and created opportunity zones,” Blackwell said. “This is a familiar program, but this is the most robust version of it. Opportunity zones are specific geographical areas selected by governors of each state for redevelopment.”

The redevelopment is incentivized by tax breaks that are available to investors, Blackwell said.

“This is beneficial for investors because they are able to defer taxes for capital gains,” Blackwell said. “And once they’ve invested into an opportunity zone, the money made off that investment is tax-free as well.”