NEW BRITAIN – Gov. Dannel Malloy recently announced he nominated three sites in the city as “opportunity zones,” joining 69 such zones he proposed should be included in the newly-established federal program.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created the Opportunity Zones Program, which intends to spur private investment in low-income communities. The program provides tax incentives to those who invest in the areas. In turn, the businesses or organizations reinvest money into “opportunity funds” for the opportunity zones.
To qualify as an opportunity zone, census tracts must have a poverty rate of at least 20 percent of a median income that does not exceed 80 percent of the area median income. The number of census tracts that may be designated as opportunity zones may not exceed 25 percent of the total number of low-income population census tracts in the state, according to the rules of the program.
Malloy announced last week that he’s nominated 72 zones in 27 municipalities for the program.
“One of my administration’s top priorities has been the revitalization, reinvention and growth of our cities,” Malloy said. “These opportunity zone nominations we have made will go a long way in encouraging new investment and development in areas that will be critical to Connecticut’s future. I’d like to thank all of the towns that submitted applications, and congratulate those chosen for this exciting new program.”
Commissioner Catherine Smith from the Department of Economic and Community Development thanked municipalities for applying.
“The 72 opportunity zones that we have nominated are ripe for redevelopment, and we hope this designation will encourage new investments in these areas and spur economic growth,” Smith said.
“Incentivizing developers to build affordable housing makes good economic sense and a diverse housing stock is key to attracting business and people of all ages,” said Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne M. Klein.
Mayor Erin Stewart was invited to the White House in February to discuss the program. Stewart joined a panel led by Ivanka Trump, an adviser to her father President Donald Trump, and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina.
“This is a game changer for our community’s economic future,” Stewart told The Herald on Monday. “I’m proud to say my visit made a difference in how this legislation will be applied around the country. With insight from Mayors who have intimate knowledge of community needs the Opportunity Zone policy was made better.”
One of the city’s nominated sites, census tract 4159, includes the Myrtle Street area and the former Stanley Black & Decker site. Last week The Herald reported that a LLC is hoping to bring a $1 billion, multiphase project to the site.
“Gov. Malloy’s nomination today of New Britain’s proposed Energy Innovation Park site to be designated as an Opportunity Zone is a critical next step for both the city and the state to initiate the Phase 1 fuel-cell portion of this project,” said Mark Wick, a partner in the project. “This nomination provides a clear path forward for private investment to build New Britain into an essential hub of the new technology-driven economy, and it also validates the tremendous potential of our $1 billion investment to generate thousands of new jobs and create a high-tech data center at the former Stanley Black & Decker site.”
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.