Summit County unveiled another tool to attract significant investments to the county’s poorest neighborhoods.

The county on Wednesday showed off an online prospectus aimed at enticing investors to put money into new economic development projects in 16 federally recognized Opportunity Zones in Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton.

And the clock is ticking to get the biggest bang out of the Opportunity Zones, which promise significant federal capital gains tax breaks on qualified projects.

Opportunity Zones were created in the 2017 federal tax reform package. The zones are low-income census tracts identified and nominated by local communities as having strong potential for development.

“Investors want to go where they have opportunities,” said Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro. The new program also provides opportunities for the people living and working in the county’s more economically distressed areas, she said.

The online prospectus is intended to show off the county to investors and also demonstrate that Summit County is a business friendly community, Shapiro and others said at the unveiling held Wednesday afternoon inside the Bounce Innovation Hub in downtown Akron. The prospectus includes a map of the county's Opportunity Zones and extensive demographic, economic and development information.

“None of this stuff is simple,” Shapiro said. “The county will help be the facilitator.”

The country prospectus can be found at summit4success.com/opportunityzones.

The state in late April also launched a web portal for the 320 Opportunity Zones in Ohio.

Investors need to put their money into the Opportunity Zone program by the end of December in order to reap the maximum tax benefits, said Graham Allison, guest speaker at Wednesday’s event who provided an overview of Opportunity Zone investing. Allison is chief executive and co-founder of Opportunity Zone Development Group in Columbus.

“This is specifically for capital gains only,” Allison said. “It is designed to attract outside capital.”

When properly used, investors can get significant capital gains breaks, Allison said.

He said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin estimates $100 billion will be invested in Opportunity Zones by the end of this year around the nation.

“It should be a big 2019,” Allison said.

Summit County’s 16 Opportunity Zones are:

• Three tracts covering downtown Akron and the University of Akron.

• Three tracts covering the Sherbondy Hill neighborhood and the Rolling Acres area on Akron's west side.

• Three tracts covering parts of Akron's North Hill and Chapel Hill areas.

• Two tracts covering parts of the Summit Lake and Firestone Park neighborhoods of Akron.

• Two tracts covering parts of East Akron, Middlebury, Goodyear Heights and Ellet, including Akron Fulton International Airport.

• Two tracts covering much of Barberton.

• One tract covering part of downtown Cuyahoga Falls and a residential portion to the northwest as far as Graham Road.

Gov. Mike DeWine wants Ohio’s new budget to include a nonrefundable 10 percent state income tax credit to enhance Opportunity Zones. The governor said that will give Ohio a competitive advantage over other states.

 

Jim Mackinnon covers business. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.