Las Vegas Sun

May 26, 2019

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Opportunity Zones encourage investment in low-income Clark County communities

Clark County is using a new federal program meant to encourage investors to put money into low-income communities.

Commissioners on Tuesday were presented a map pinpointing areas in the county targeted for the Opportunity Zone program, established by Congress in 2017 to encourage investment in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide.

“There’s a huge market for using this program,” said Derek Armstrong of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

In an email, Armstrong said the program will foster economic revitalization and job creation to promote sustainable economic growth.

Those who invest in the designated zones are eligible for capital gains tax incentives. Capital gains are profits made from the sale of a property or investment.

Opportunity Zones are determined by factors including the percentage of an area’s population below the poverty line, households with rent or mortgages greater than 30% of their income and the percentage of population in the labor force.

Designated zones in Clark County span across downtown Las Vegas and North Las Vegas along Lake Mead Boulevard, between Civic Center Drive and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Areas around McCarran International Airport have also been designated Opportunity Zones. The map can be viewed at www.diversifynevada.com.

Commission Vice-Chairman Lawrence Weekly said he sees disparities in how the zones are spread out, particularly in the areas between Bonanza Road, Martin Luther King Boulevard and up to Craig Road, which were not included in the designated zones. He called it a “missed opportunity.”

“Look at what’s happening on Craig,” he said. “Where is it that we even get to go and eat on Craig? You have to drive all the way outside of your neighborhood to even have choices.”

But Armstrong noted the area along Craig Road wasn’t eligible for designation because the median income was too high. Commissioner Justin Jones asked if there was a way to make changes to the designated zones, to which Armstrong said there is not flexibility on designations.