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ESD announces participation in new Opportunity Zone program; Higgins applauds participation

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Fri, Mar 9th 2018 11:00 am
Federal program aims to build investment in under-served communities
Empire State Development on Thursday announced New York state is participating in the new Opportunity Zone community development program, offered through the Tax Cuts and Job Acts of 2017.
The federal program will establish Opportunity Zones, or low-income census tracts, to boost private investment in under-served urban and rural communities. These census tracts may receive funding from Opportunity Funds, which allow a wide array of investors to pool their resources to rebuild distressed neighborhoods.
ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Participating in the Opportunity Zone Program demonstrates New York's commitment to revitalize and develop local communities, which is a key component of our economic development strategy."
New York state is currently reviewing eligible census tracts to be designated as Opportunity Zones. Public engagement is encouraged during the process, and stakeholders can submit questions or suggestions through an online form accessible on the Opportunity Zone program page. Final nominations will be made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, based on research and analysis provided by ESD and New York State Homes and Community Renewal, in conjunction with the Regional Economic Development Councils.
The nominations must be made by the governor no later than April 20. When finalized, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will approve the nominated census tracts and administer the Opportunity Zone program. For more information, including FAQs, census tract maps and the feedback form, click here.
ESD is New York's chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the state and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies.
For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.
Congressman Brian Higgins welcomed the announcement ESD intends to participate in the Opportunity Zone program. Last month, in a letter to New York state leaders, Higgins encouraged the inclusion of Western New York neighborhoods in the program.
"Like federal New Markets and Historic Tax Credits, the Opportunity Zone program holds the promise of driving substantial new investments into struggling neighborhoods," Higgins said. "We look forward to advancing this initiative as another tool available to continue the momentum contributing to Western New York's renaissance."
Standing in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, Higgins detailed the initiative and gave examples of the Western New York communities that could benefit:
  • The continued growth of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
  • Future phases of the Northland Corridor Redevelopment Project on Buffalo's East Side.
  • The Broadway-Fillmore Historic District, including the redevelopment of the Buffalo Central Terminal.
  • Projects like the proposed Cooperage redevelopment along Ohio Street and Shea's Seneca on Seneca Street in South Buffalo.
  • The Bethlehem Steel redevelopment in Lackawanna.
  • The Huntley plant site redevelopment in Tonawanda.
  • Downtown and Main Street redevelopment in Niagara Falls.
  • The ongoing redevelopment of the West Side of Buffalo, and Black Rock and Riverside.
  • Portions of Payne Avenue and Oliver Street in North Tonawanda.
  • Investments around the Cedargrove Heights neighborhood in Cheektowaga.
The Opportunity Zone program will allow investors to take the proceeds of profitable investments and move them to an Opportunity Fund, lowering the tax burden for investors and providing new resources for job creating investments in low-income communities.
Higgins is pushing for a minimum of 32 census tracts in Erie and Niagara counties to be included in the program.

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