The city of Bowling Green is considering next steps for what are known as “Opportunity Zones”. The city recently held a workshop on the program, which is part of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Opportunity Zones aim to encourage long-term investment in low-income communities.
Eligible areas are those with a poverty rate of at least 20 percent or a median family income that doesn’t exceed 80 percent of the area’s median income.
Akisha Townsend Eaton is a non-profit lawyer in Bowling Green, working with the city on Opportunity Zones. She organized a workshop for the program last month.
“Overall, the event was an illustration of the fact that there’s so many people in this local asset base that really are part of the story,” she said.
Townsend-Eaton said Bowling Green’s opportunity zone is more than 60 percent black, Hispanic or foreign-born.
“When you deal with those communities, I think the biggest questions are, 'Is this going to lead to gentrification, is it going to lead to displacement?', and the jury is really out on those things,” she said.
Townsend-Eaton said there needs to be protections in place to avoid displacement. She said the difference with this initiative is that investors are the driving force, not the city.
An investor can defer their capital gains taxes by putting them into an Opportunity Zone fund. They can then be used to invest in the predetermined area.