Mar 29 2019

OCBC Chair Elect Joe Hensley Joins CALED Panel to Discuss Opportunity Zones

On Thursday, March 28, OCBC Chair-Elect Joe Hensley joined a panel of top economists and elected officials at the CALED 39th Annual Training Conference to discuss Opportunity Zones (OZ’s), economically-distressed communities where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment, and their potential impact on California’s economic developers.

Joe introduced the morning’s topic and first speaker, Brian Lenihan, Executive Director of SelectUSA, who shared how the Federal government is supporting investors in leveraging Opportunity Zone incentives with resources on being successful in this space.

The event’s second speaker, Larry Kosmont, Chairman & CEO of Kosmont Companies, broke down the basics of the Opportunity Zones program, which incentivizes individuals to realize capital gains and invest in low-income areas through tax deferrals and reductions. To maximize investments, Kosmont underlined timing as critical in a space where competition promises to grow exponentially.  

Then, Kosmont led a panel discussion with Kaina Pereira, Asst. Deputy Director for the Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development, and Ian Ross, CEO & Co-Founder of OppSites. The panel discussed how California can position itself to attract these types of investments by following states who have already transformed tax statutes to conform to the program, including New York and Texas.

According to the panel, there are already upcoming California legislature changes to aid Opportunity Zone development, including conforming the CA income tax laws to the program, pairing EIFDs with OZ’s, and eliminating the 55% voter requirement for bond issuance to EIFDs.

The panel also shared thoughts on strategies for attracting OZ funds by: educating communities about OZ’s; identifying key projects, property owners and stakeholders in OZ areas; developing OZ investments in businesses, real estate or both; updating economic development plans and zoning to align with OZ targets; streamlining local project approval processes to ensure OZ projects are successful; and creating an OZ prospectus to market target projects to OZ investors.

Joe shared his major takeaways from the discussion in an OCBC Minute – CLICK HERE to view the recap. To learn more, contact Jesse Ben-Ron, OCBC Director of Workforce and Economic Development.  

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