Thanks to the 2017 federal tax overhaul, six counties in our region are positioned to get new investment in their designated low-income areas.
Congress created Opportunity Zones across the nation to spur investment in low-income areas. These new zones were designated in Davidson, Cheatham, Dickson, Montgomery, Sumner, and Rutherford Counties. The zones range from the traditionally underserved, but rapidly changing neighborhoods in Nashville to very rural areas in Cheatham and Dickson Counties.
The Opportunity Zone program is designed to encourage investment. Instead of offering tax credits like similar efforts, the program offers investors a tax deferral (or even forgiveness) for capital gains that are invested in Opportunity Zones. Investors can reduce the capital gains taxes they owe on previous investments if they invest in a qualified zone for seven years and can eliminate tax the debt entirely on any appreciation in the investment if they keep the investment for a decade.
Local leaders must work strategically to attract investments that bring the greatest community benefit.
As city and county leaders work to distinguish their Opportunity Zones to new investors, we should work to attract the types of investment that create jobs, bring community benefits, and expand opportunities for the people who need them most, while enhancing livability, contributing to community character, and avoiding negative outcomes.
Time is of the essence as investments in Opportunity Zones are already happening. In Cheatham County, where the Opportunity Zone covers nearly 20% of the total county area, construction is already underway on three projects. The projects will produce over 400 jobs and are supported by over $41 Million in capital investment.
Jerome Terrell, Cheatham County’s Director of Economic and Community Development and CRT Board Member, said that in early discussions with the organizations’ principals the Opportunity Zone designation was a consideration and part of the selection process. “We have been working in Cheatham County to make certain that investments that are made in the county bring the most benefits to the people of the county. Our natural spaces are much loved by residents and a great asset to the county, and we are very cognizant of that as we make economic development decisions,” Terrell said.
The Greater Nashville Regional Council (GNRC), along with numerous partners, is leading the effort to assist cities and counties in the region take advantage of the Opportunity Zone program. To learn more about Opportunity Zones in our region, visit www.GreaterNashvilleQOZ.org.