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Opportunity Zones may offer incentives for future investors

Calling all investors.

That’s what two state officials told Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce members Wednesday.

Incentives exist for investors who want to put in projects in Williamsport and the region, according to Scott Deitrich, project manager with the Governor Tom Wolf’s Action Team.

Deitrich was joined by Richard P. Vilello Jr., deputy secretary of community affairs with the Department of Community and Economic Development.

In today’s world, an investor from California can put his or her money in Williamsport and the region, Deitrich said.

New incentives are being created, including opportunity zones, where the investors don’t have a limit on the amount of money put into a project other than their own wealth, he said.

When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed by Congress in December of 2017, a new section of the tax code was created allowing for the creation of Opportunity Zones across the United States, and it defined the tax incentives that investors will receive for investing in them.

“No minimum or maximum investment,” Deitrich said. “If you can dream it up … so long as the project is in one of the zones.”

For the city and region to compete with the 8,700 other opportunity zones across the nation and in Puerto Rico, all of the stakeholders must work as a team, he said.

“You need assets to be compiled to tell a story,” he said.

Investors are eligible to benefit from capital gains tax incentives available exclusively through the program.

About 300 of the zones are scattered across the state, with Philadelphia comprising 60 and Pittsburgh 40 to 50, Vilello said.

“You can make an investment in residential, commercial and industrial, specifying three zones exist in Williamsport.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development wants to bring state funds to these projects, Vilello said.

Three Opportunity Zones in Williamsport:

• The boundaries are the western boundary of the city on the west, Trenton Avenue to Wayne Avenue to West Fourth Street on the north, Lycoming Creek on the east and the Susquehanna River on the south. This areas are zoned for light and heavy industrial.

• The boundaries are Maynard Street to West Fourth Street to Third Avenue on the west, Rural Avenue on the north, Hepburn Street to Edwin Street to Elmira Street on the east and West Third Street on the south. These boundaries encompass the area that is currently part of the recently completed Park Avenue Plan.

• The boundaries are Hepburn Street to West Third Street, a bump out of Elmira and Edwin streets, back along Hepburn Street to Little League Boulevard to E. Fourth Street, Penn Street on the west. Sheridan Street on the north, Catherine Street on the east and the Susquehanna River to Market Street to Interstate 180 on the south. The area also is designated East Third Street Gateway area and includes the Central Business District.

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