Crittenden County home to three potential ‘Opportunity Zones’

Crittenden County home to three potential ‘Opportunity Zones’

Arkansas Economic Development Commission recommending two West Memphis, one Marion location for incentive program

More good news about newly created opportunity zones was delivered to Crittenden County. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission recommended not just two local census tracts nominated for the new U.S.

Treasury Department investment incentive program but three. The news came as a delight to the economic development directors in both West Memphis and Marion.

West Memphis Economic Development Director Phillip Sorrell and Marion Chamber of Commerce President touted the big development opportunity.

“This is big, I mean really big,” said Brick.

“This is a huge arrow in our economic development quiver,” said Sorrell.

“These areas are now riper for private sector investment. We are excited about this because it allows private investment in these areas. Marion got one and West Memphis actually got two.”

The governor’s nominations for three tracts in the county were submitted for consideration by the U.S. Treasury Department. The new tax incentive mitigates capital gains taxes for businesses investing and setting up operations in the designated zones. Should a business sell, half the capital gains tax is set aside after five years, and no capital gains tax are paid should the company sell to new owners after ten years. Investors hold six trillion dollars and sit out of the economy according to federal officials, because of high capital gains taxes.

The move under the new federal tax code presented lighter tax consequences in opportunity zones. Brick offered a thumbnail overview of the tax incentive.

“The federal government determined there was a lot of capital being held by corporations or individuals that wasn’t being invested” said Brick. “ They created this to flush out the money.

To give them a logical place to spend it, they identified lower income zone across the United States.

To paraphrase, they want an investor whose got some money to spend in poverty zones that will make the most impact. The state had 300 of these zones. The governor nominated 85.”

Sorrell said the new program was similar to other economic development incentives and explained the criteria.

“This was part of the federal tax bill that came out in January,” said Sorrell.

“It’s like the old enterprise zones where you can invest money in blighted areas and get tax credits. This one is unique it’s based on census tracts.”

Brick outlined the proposed zone in Marion.

“We have agreements on 1,250 acres bordered by Hino Boulevard, and the Union Pacific yard,” said Brick. “It’s all zoned industrial. My office will still try to find developers but really the State AEDC will use the opportunity zone to help market the site across the world.

Phillip Sorrell described the boundaries for the two West Memphis zones under consideration by the feds.

He said the two zones were like doors to the Gateway City. One of the zones covered the super site in northwest part of the city which is contiguous with the nominated Marion zone and reaches along Interstate 40.

The second West Memphis site stretched across the eastern boundary.

“The first opportunity zone covers from Highway 147 all the way to the Lakeshore trailer park,” said Sorrell. “The other census tract starts down south at the West Memphis International Rail Port Logistics Park all the way up to our front door at Martin Luther King Dr. We want to do want we can to clean up and have a nicer front door as you enter West Memphis.”

“This is another way to attract site selectors. We are near to major Interstates, a river ports, thirty minutes from an International airport and in special development

zone,” said Brick. “They start clicking it out and all the sudden there are

five desirable criteria to offer prospective new businesses.”

By John Rech