Seattle: Creating Opportunities — and Tax Breaks — in the Right Communities
The Opportunity Zone program, a new federal tax incentive intended to attract investments to low-income communities, is quickly rolling out across the U.S., as funds and states develop strategies to facilitate investments. (Click here to read more about what OZs are and how the program works.)
In order for Opportunity Zones (OZ) to be successful, the communites that are intended to benefit from them must be prioritized in planning and decision making. In Washington, the state Department of Commerce did just that when they assembled a working group — comprised of the National Develepment Council, Mission Investors Exchange, and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisio — to ensure that the city's OZ investments would benefit the low-income communities they are intended to serve.
This coalition is not the only example of a partnership to secure OZ capital that can address the needs of at risk communities. Emerald Coast OZ is looking to OZs to fund the relocation of communities that may be dispersed due to rising sea levels and tsunamis, while North Star OZ is hoping to utilize capital to create a small business ecosystem in an area that covers more that 10,000 sq mi in rural north-central Washington.
Read this op-ed in The Seattle Times showing that OZs can be beneficial to historically disenfranchised communities — with careful attention, patience, resources, and partnership.