Opportunity Zones are Available Throughout the Region
By Ana Gomez Salcido
A new investment program, known as Opportunity Zones, connects private capital with economically distressed communities. Panelists and guest speakers came together on a forum to discuss and expand on San Diego’s Opportunity Zones and how investing in these zones can qualify for preferential tax benefits while contributing to the local economy.
“Investing in Opportunity Zones in South County and San Diego offers great potential for investors and low-income communities alike, and it is important to start taking advantage of this opportunity,” said Michael Lengyel, Assistant Vice President of Civic San Diego.
An overflowing crowd of more about 75 community members including elected officials, investors, developers, and more, from around San Diego County as well as all the way from Calexico, gathered at the South County Regional Education Center to learn more about Opportunity Zones in South County and San Diego County. The forum offered attendees a comprehensive look into the new program, which was enacted as part of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, effective in December of 2017.
The new law focuses on finding and appointing opportunity zones throughout the region, which are chosen based on a census tract identifying low-income communities. Among those opportunity zones are National City, Chula Vista, Downtown San Diego, and El Cajon. The law also enables tax incentives for investments in these zones, including the deferral, and possible elimination, of capital gains that are reinvested in the zones.
“Opportunity Zones are especially attractive to institutional investors or “impact” investors – those who are interested in providing a real difference in the community,” said Eric Tetrault, Associate at Higgs Fletcher & Mack. “These possibilities give investors that have a stake and interest in seeing their community grow the chance to do so with extra incentives.”
Brydan Stueve, Program Officer of LICS San Diego, was also present to discuss the work that Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) does and how they tie in with the Opportunity Zones. LISC is a national organization that dedicates their efforts to ameliorating communities to become good places to work, do business, and live. LISC’s success in San Diego includes creating affordable housing, financial opportunity centers, neighborhood economic development and more.
“The Opportunity Zone is a new tool in San Diego’s investment toolbox to direct more resources into the communities where we work,” said Stueve.
The panel then answered questions from the attendees and continued to emphasize the opportunity at hand and the importance it holds for the overall growth of San Diego.
“South County and San Diego County’s growth is booming in all aspects and this new program offers incentives not only on a personal level as an investor, but also for the community as a whole,” said Cindy Gompper-Graves, president and CEO of South County EDC. “South County EDC urges community members to learn more about the exciting program and take advantage of the opportunities around our area.”