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Governor eyes Oregon Opportunity Zones

Money once destined for capital gains taxes may soon be redirected into economic development in low-income areas.

Tax reform passed by Congress last year established a new federal tax incentive encouraging long-term investments in low-income communities.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown can nominate up to 86 of Oregon's designated 366 Low Income Communities to be designated as Opportunity Zones by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Opportunity Zones are designed to attract private investment into low-income urban and rural communities.

Opportunity Funds — created by Real Estate Investment Trust or equity investment — can earn tax relief on both the capital gains invested in the funds and dollars generated from the fund's investment.

“The Opportunity Zone program has the potential to be another tool to help grow Oregon businesses and spur investment in our state’s rural or underserved communities,” said Business Oregon Director Chris Harder.

Low Income Communities are tracts with a poverty rate of at least 20 percent or where median family incomes do not exceed 80 percent of area median income.

Treasury requires at least 90 percent of a certified Opportunity Fund to either involve direct ownership of a business, or an equity stake in a qualified Opportunity Zone business. Qualified Opportunity Zone business property needs to be newly acquired from unrelated parties.

Business Oregon has a web page showing Low Income Community census tracts and a form to solicit public input.

Public input is due by 5 p.m. March 14 in order for the governor to meet the March 31 nomination deadline. A 30-day extension can be requested, which would push the deadline to April 20. Treasury has 30 to 60 days to approve nominated census tracts.

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or gstiles@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.