This month, Uptown Consortium, Inc. (UCI) hosted a roundtable event to discuss how to leverage the new federal opportunity zones incentives to best benefit Cincinnati’s communities. Senator Rob Portman, who advocated for both the opportunity zones and New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) programs, joined the panel discussion along with experts Frank Buss, Partner, Novogradac, and Lee Stautberg, Partner, Dinsmore.
Beth Robinson, President and CEO of Uptown Consortium, opened the event with remarks on opportunity zones in Greater Cincinnati. Robinson is a member of a nationwide working group comprised of industry experts to provide feedback on opportunity zones regulations to federal agencies.
“In Uptown, we’re lucky that all of Avondale has been designated an Opportunity Zone,” said Robinson during the panel discussion. “We’re working with the community leaders to figure out how to utilize this important tool.”
Experts Buss and Stautberg shared their experiences with opportunity zones since the program’s inception, their thoughts on the most recent round of regulations released in April, and how they predict the incentive will be utilized by investors moving forward.
“Opportunity Zones open investment up to new investor classes. We may see more individual investors and small or family-owned businesses,” said Buss. “We estimate there’s billions of dollars’ worth of gains—trillions, perhaps.”
Stautberg pointed out that because the program is self-certifying, there are fewer barriers to entry, which makes the program more flexible for investors. This is especially significant compared to NMTCs, which are set amounts allocated through community development entities.
Attendees joined the discussion to ask questions for Senator Portman and the panel experts and to provide their own experiences to date with opportunity zones. The list of attendees included developers, economic and community development organizations and federal and state representatives.
“I enjoyed today’s discussion on the benefits of Opportunity Zones and how they can help spur economic development and job creation in low-income communities in the Cincinnati area,” said Senator Rob Portman in a news release.
The event was held at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, which was partially funded by NMTCs from UCI. The building is one example of the benefit federal programs like NMTCs and opportunity zones can have on communities.