FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 19, 2018) – Gov. Matt Bevin today made stops in both Eastern and Western Kentucky to promote the newly-announced Kentucky Opportunity Zone Initiative, which will administer 144 federally-approved “Opportunity Zones” in 84 of the Commonwealth’s counties. The zones, part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress last year, provide federal tax breaks and deferrals to entities and individuals investing in economic development projects within designated areas throughout the state. The Opportunity Zones are expected to draw increased capital to low-income urban and rural areas to support development projects.
Gov. Bevin began the day on Main Street in Hazard highlighting the important role that current community development initiatives and local businesses will play in attracting new investment to Kentucky's Opportunity Zones. Downtown Hazard is within one of three contiguous census tracks that have been approved as Opportunity Zones in Perry County.
“Opportunity Zones offer an important framework to encourage investment in downtown Hazard and on similar Main Streets across the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Bevin. “Our hope is that this initiative will provide a catalyst for economic revitalization in both our rural and urban communities. We believe that the future is bright indeed for proud cities like Hazard, who stand ready and willing to seize upon innovative new possibilities.”
Gov. Bevin then traveled to Muhlenberg County to the Paradise Regional Business Park to highlight its industrial development potential. The park, located off the Western Kentucky Parkway with access to both Interstates 65 and 69, is also in an Opportunity Zone. As well, it contains a state-certified Build-Ready site.
“Paradise Regional Business Park is one of many local economic development sites across Kentucky that are well-positioned for success within an Opportunity Zone,” said Gov. Bevin. “Tax incentive tools like this one, coupled with the Commonwealth’s exceptional geographic location, transportation infrastructure, logistical advantages, and increasingly business-friendly climate, will help us to unleash our full economic potential.”
Gov. Bevin recommended the approval of Kentucky’s zones to the U.S. Department of the Treasury in mid-March, and the Commonwealth was one of the first 18 states to have zones certified by the U.S. Treasury.
U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the program will transform the quality of life in communities statewide.
“Opportunity Zones are another reason why tax reform is good for Kentucky families and our state’s economy," said Sen. McConnell. "Opportunity Zones will breathe new life into struggling communities left behind by Obama-era policies. From coal country to farming communities and everywhere in between, overregulation was holding our economy and our workers short of their full potential. We are getting the government’s foot off the brake and letting the economy flourish. These zones will make Kentucky’s communities attractive places to do business, open new facilities and create good-paying jobs. I know there is a lot of excitement throughout our state.”
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul emphasized the benefits of the opportunity zones program.
“As a leading voice and long-time advocate for lowering the tax rate in low-income communities to spur economic development, I am pleased that Kentucky will be benefiting from the newly created Opportunity Zone," said Sen. Paul. "I look forward to the positive results of this initiative to incentivize more business investments to locate in these areas and provide more jobs and opportunities."
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers highlighted the importance of opportunity zones in supporting local economic development.
“The Opportunity Zones come as another benefit of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Creation Act, which will deliver additional support to create jobs and boost the economy in communities where it’s needed the most,” said Rep. Rogers. “I look forward to working with Governor Bevin and local leaders to maximize the regional impact of the important investments ahead.”
U.S. Rep. Jamie Comer said that opportunity zones will increase opportunities for local communities throughout the state.
“The Opportunity Zone initiative was an important piece of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which I was proud to vote for in December,” said Rep. Comer. “These zones will help increase long-term investment in economically distressed communities, like Muhlenberg County, across the state and our nation. I look forward to expanded opportunities for business growth, economic development, and ultimately more good-paying jobs throughout the First District.”
Kentucky’s Opportunity Zone Initiative Program is administered by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and will serve as a centralized resource for applications, information, and news related to investment in opportunity funds. The website KYOZ.com will serve as a connection point for potential entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses looking to locate within a Kentucky Opportunity Zone. The website will be updated with the latest information and guidance from the U.S. Treasury as it becomes available.
For more information regarding Kentucky’s opportunity zones, visit KYOZ.com.