President Trump recognizes Opportunity Zones in State of the Union Address

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AIKEN S.C. (WJBF) — South Carolina Senator Tim Scott started the “Opportunity Zone Program” in 2017. It focuses on low-income areas where businesses can get tax breaks for investing, Aiken County is taking part.

“Jobs and investments are pouring into 9,000 previously neglected neighborhoods, thanks to opportunity zones,” said President Donald Trump. “A plan spearheaded by Senator Tim Scott.”

It’s an initiative for inclusive development in low-income areas.

“If you invest in an opportunity zone, you can avoid paying the 15 percent tax, for whatever profits you made,” explained Tim O’Briant. “Over time, you can increase that benefit by not paying capital gains on future projects after ten years.”

The Economic Development Director for the City of Aiken says there are more than 8,000 census tracts across the nation designated as opportunity zones, providing incentives as investments in business growth.

“Typically, that’s in more urban areas where projects are more certain to be profitable in the beginning,” said O’Briant. “Whether there was an opportunity zone credit or not.”

The vacant Save-A-Lot property on York Street is one project city leaders hope launches soon. O’Briant says that intersection has a high volume of traffic. The property could house people moving into the area due to the growing cyber industry.

“I want to look at getting investors who are going to build high-quality housing that people are going to work there are going to be interested in living in,” said O’Briant.

The Economic Development Director says there is a need for housing, and more jobs are becoming available. He says the All-America city is in position for growth.

“We think we have evidence for investors that we can make their money back and more,” explained O’Briant.

O’Briant adds no projects in the opportunity zones have not picked up traction yet. He and city leaders are optimistic that investors will invest in business-ready locations.

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