Economic Development

State Unveils Marketing Tool for Opportunity Zones Program

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Development Services Agency unveiled a new marketing platform for the Opportunity Zones program Wednesday afternoon during the Ohio Opportunity Zones Showcase in Columbus.

The federal program, as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in 2017, allows taxpayers to defer taxes owed on capital gains by investing the realized gain in an Opportunity Zone, which are in low-income census tracts. In Ohio, 320 Opportunity Zones were created, including 15 in the Mahoning Valley.

“We are so pleased that Governor DeWine and the leadership at ODSA recognize the tremendous potential of the Opportunity Zones for communities across Ohio, and we look forward to working with this new tool along with our economic and community development partners in the Mahoning Valley,” said Lauren Johnson, manager of the 422 Corridor and Business Development for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.

Johnson was among several local economic development and community leaders attending Wednesday’s event in Columbus. Others included Genna Petrolla, economic development program manager for Eastgate Regional Council of Governments; Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown; and T. Sharon Woodberry, Youngstown community planning and economic development director.

“Bringing outside, private investment to these areas will build a brighter future for Ohioans through better jobs and opportunities,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a news release Wednesday afternoon. “We want to open the lines of communication and allow an exchange of information to bring about economic improvement in Ohio’s Opportunity Zones.”

In March, DeWine proposed a 10% nonrefundable income tax credit in the state budget for qualified investments in Ohio Opportunity Zones.

The new online marketing platform allows Ohio’s 320 Opportunity Zones to share details on areas of their communities with high potential for new investment, development and job creation.

At Wednesday’s event, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted demonstrated the online tool’s functions. These include the ability to submit community information and projects as well as an interactive map that allows investors to search for projects by area. A resources section offers a wealth of outside sources focused on Opportunity Zones and investing.

“Opportunity Zones represent the best incentive to attract private investment into many of our most economically stressed communities,” he said. “Ohio is competing for this private investment with communities in every state, so we created a platform making investing in Ohio Opportunity Zones more inviting than our competitors.”

Dayton, Hamilton and Ohio City were featured in a video showcase during the event, while Athens, Fostoria and Summit County provided live presentations.

“Ohio communities are competing with communities across the country for the same investment dollars. Development will provide the tools that give Ohio communities the edge to create maximum economic impact,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency.

An investor panel featuring Mark J. Bell of Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors, Michael J. Taylor of PNC Bank and Jonathan D. Tower of Arctaris, and an adviser panel with Gary Hecimovich of the Washington office of Deloitte Tax, Jennifer Karpe of Murray Murphy Moul + Basil and Stephen M. Lukinovich of MCM CPAs & Advisors LLP provided guidance to attendees.

Pictured: Lt. Gov. Jon Husted addresses those gathered at the Ohio Opportunity Zones Showcase in Columbus.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.