URBANA, Ill. – Economically-distressed census tracts, designated as Opportunity Zones under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, provide an incentivized avenue for taxpayers to contribute to long-term economic growth in underserved areas.

The state of Illinois designated 327 tracts, the maximum number allowed by Congress, which are located throughout the state in both urban and rural areas. Taxpayers who invest capital gains in a Qualified Opportunity Fund for long-term development in these traditionally low-income tracts can become eligible for certain tax benefits, including deferments, reductions, and exemptions.

 “This idea has been championed by a wide-ranging coalition of investors, entrepreneurs, community developers, economists, and other stakeholders,” says Mike Pomerantz. “The program performance exceeded the original estimates by the federal government. Communities who have not yet taken advantage of the program will want to learn from other communities' success.”

On May 6 at noon (CT), presenters Mike Pomerantz, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Shelly Piao join host University of Illinois Extension in an online Local Government Education webinar, which delivers Opportunity Zone program updates and demonstrates partnership strategies Illinois communities are using to successfully breathe life into struggling economies.

Register in advance for the free, online discussion: go.illinois.edu/OZupdate

Pomerantz serves as a real estate and tax incentive administrator with DCEO and focuses efforts on helping Illinois make use of the Federal Opportunity Zone Program and developing and maintaining relationships with the site selector industry.

Piao, master student at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Illinois Extension graduate research assistant, engages with community economic development organizations in Illinois and will highlight the development and delivery of two, cohesive rural OZ support systems in the cities of Canton and Hanava.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, contact Nancy Ouedraogo, organizer and Extension specialist, at esarey@illinois.edu. Early requests are strongly encouraged.

SOURCE: Nancy Ouedraogo, Community and Economic Development Specialist, University of Illinois Extension

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