Vermont To Convene Opportunity Zone Summit

22 May 2018

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Media Contact:
Elaine Sopchak
(802) 505-1795
elaine.sopchak@vermont.gov

 

Vermont To Convene Opportunity Zone Summit
U.S. Treasury Department Designated 25 Vermont Opportunity Zones in April
 

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Vermont Agency of Commerce Secretary Michael Schirling announced Tuesday that the State of Vermont will convene financial experts, community and economic development professionals, and representatives of the 25 newly, federally-designated Opportunity Zones on Tuesday, June 12th in Montpelier to maximize the impact of the new development tool.

                        WHAT:          Vermont Opportunity Zone Summit
                        WHEN:          1 p.m. – 3 p.m., Tuesday, June 12
                        WHERE:        Pavilion Auditorium
                                             109 Main Street, Montpelier

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created a new tax incentive for investors who make qualified investments in Opportunity Zones through an Opportunity Fund.  According to guidance issued by the Internal Revenue Service, investors will be able to defer or reduce federal tax liability on income directed to a fund and invested in Opportunity Zones.

“I hope Vermont’s Opportunity Zones give communities and neighborhoods struggling with high unemployment and disinvestment a tool to attract new investment, create new jobs, and address Vermont’s affordable housing challenge,” said Schirling.  “These funds will encourage investors to invest directly in companies, real estate projects, and other opportunities that might otherwise have been overlooked.”

In March, Vermont Governor Phil Scott nominated 25 low income census tracts in Barre City, Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Johnson, Lyndon, Newport City, Randolph, Rockingham, Royalton, Rutland City, St. Albans City, St. Johnsbury, South Burlington, Springfield, Vergennes, and Winooski as Opportunity Zones. In April, the U.S. Treasury Department announced those nominations were accepted.

Schirling said the Agency of Commerce and Community Development worked with communities, development organizations and other stakeholders to narrow the list of more than 100 federally-recognized census tracts down to the 25 designated in April. The Agency evaluated poverty and unemployment rates, population counts, the number of businesses and private sector jobs, available infrastructure, state designation program participation, and development potential of each tract before making recommendations to Scott. Approximately 85,000 Vermonters – of which approximately 18,000 live below the federal poverty line – and 7,470 businesses reside in the designated zones.

The June 12th conference will give representatives of Opportunity Zones, investors, businesses, and state leaders a chance to hear from national and local Opportunity Zone experts. Kenan Fikri of the Economic Innovation Group, a nationally recognized leader on Opportunity Zone policy, will provide insights into how the program is unfolding nationally. Stephen Trenholm from accounting firm Gallagher, Flynn and Company will talk about anticipated tax benefits of the new program. And Craig Miskovich, from the Vermont-based legal firm of Downs Rachlin Martin, who has extensive experience combining federal New Market Tax Credits with other funding, will present about folding Opportunity Funds into a project. 

To learn more about Opportunity Zones and to register for the Vermont Opportunity Zone Summit, visit accd.vermont.gov/opportunityzones.  Registration is also available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/vermont-opportunity-zone-summit-registration-46152911601.

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s mission is to help Vermonters improve their quality of life and build strong communities. ACCD accomplishes this mission by providing grants, technical assistance, and advocacy through three divisions:  The Department of Economic Development, the Department of Tourism and Marketing, and the Department of Housing and Community Development. 

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