AP NEWS

Huntington groups host Opportunity Zones luncheon

April 4, 2019

HUNTINGTON — Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bill Bissett believes that in order for the region to take advantage of the new Opportunity Zones program, they must first understand it.

“Like any government policy, it can be confusing,” Bissett said. “That’s the reason for our luncheon here today.”

The chamber and the Huntington Area Development Council (HADCO) hosted a luncheon Tuesday at the St. Mary’s Conference Center on 5th Avenue to explain the federal program that allows investment in specific geographic locations to jump-start economic opportunities through tax incentives.

One of the speakers at the event was Josh Jarrell, an attorney with Steptoe & Johnson. He says Steptoe & Johnson acts as a consultant and counsel to any stakeholder in an investment in the program, which ranges from a taxpayer making an investment in a qualified fund to a property or business owner and even local and state officials.

“There are a lot of unknown questions folks have about the

program, so we have partnered with organizations, like the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, to educate the investor and business communities about this program,” Jarrell said. “We are at the early stages with Opportunity Zones, but they have the potential to be very transformational as we expect this program to increase investment in both real estate and businesses to significantly increase.”

Last May, portions of Huntington, including the downtown and West End areas, were certified as Opportunity Zones by the U.S. Department of Treasury. At the same time, the U.S. Treasury Department certified 55 locations across West Virginia that will now be eligible for a new federal tax incentive designed to encourage private investors to make capital investments in those areas.

Opportunity Zones were created and added to the federal tax code as a result of President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that was approved by Congress on Dec. 22, 2017.

“Opportunity Zones give our region another tool in our economic toolkit to attract investment to West Virginia,” said Bissett. “After Sen. (Shelley Moore) Capito (R-W.Va.) brought U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina to Huntington, who was the architect of Opportunity Zones, we now have a better understanding of what this program means for our region. It is important that existing and potential investors understand how this program can not only benefit their portfolio, but also create new jobs and opportunities here at home.”

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.