On Wednesday, December 12th, over 330 municipal leaders, state officials, economic development professionals, investors, developers and other stakeholders came to UMass Lowell’s Inn & Conference Center to learn more about the new Opportunity Zones program created by Congress and implemented by the Office of Housing and Economic Development in Massachusetts.
Among those to welcome the guests to Lowell were Mayor William Samaras, City Manager Eileen Donoghue, and Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney. The event was hosted by Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Jay Ash.
“In Lowell, we know all about the importance of Public-Private Partnerships.” Mayor Samaras noted during his opening remarks, “This is a great opportunity for investors to help encourage development and improvement in some areas that need a little more help. We are happy that the governor has chosen to recognize the needs of some of our neighborhoods. ”
The Opportunity Zone program provides a federal tax incentive for taxpayers who reinvest unrealized capital gains into ‘Opportunity Funds,’ which are specialized investment vehicles dedicated to investing in designated zones. Massachusetts has 138 Opportunity Zones, located in 79 communities in all regions of the state.
The conference featured experts in tax law, commercial real estate, housing, public policy and investing. Participants engaged in panel discussions, working groups, informal networking and a question and answer session hosted by Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. The Administration also unveiled new resources, including an online map of the 138 Opportunity Zones, enhanced with community information provided by the municipalities.
There are five (5) U.S. Treasury designated Opportunity Zones in Lowell. They are located in several neighborhoods, including parts of the Highlands, Acre, Back Central and Downtown.
“Massachusetts has 138 Opportunity Zones, from Pittsfield to Provincetown,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash in a press release by the Baker-Polito administration “Today, we took the next step in advancing the program through a large-scale, active dialogue with a broad range of stakeholders – municipal leaders, investors, developers and others – with a focus on how this new program could spur additional growth across the state.”
Of the 138 designated tracts, 32 are located in the 10 communities with the lowest median family income (MFI) in the state. 48% of the tracts are in “Gateway Cities,” which are municipalities with a population between 35,000 and 250,000, with median household income and rate of educational attainment of bachelor’s degree or greater below the state average. Rural communities make up 18% of the communities with designated tracts.
To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, visit mass.gov/opportunity-zone-program.