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LARGO — The Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) held its second Opportunity Zones conference to inform developers, investors and fund managers how to take advantage of Prince George’s County’s 26 Opportunity Zones on March 12.
“It’s kind of an introductory conference to the program that we’re introducing in the county, this new tax provision that will actually allow private investment to come out of the stock market and go into the communities in designated areas of communities that are challenged economically and those are called Opportunity Zones,” said Director of Economic Development John Mason.
The conference discussed projects in the pipeline for Prince George’s County’s Opportunity Zones, ways to connect developers and landowners with investors and business projects looking for capital, provide an update on the Opportunity Zones program and highlight the benefits of participating in the program.
Through the program, institutional and individual investors will be able to invest their capital gains received from investments they have had in the stock market into real challenges areas, according to Mason.
“If they leave it in for 10 years, there is no capital gains tax on that investment into that opportunity one’s fund,” Mason said. “So what happens is it causes a feeding frenzy amongst the investment community because they can take the capital gains in the stock market, put it into a community, leave it there for ten years, and have no capital gains tax liability on their initial investment or any other subsequent investments.”
Prince George’s County currently has 26 Opportunity Zones that include areas in Capitol Heights, New Carrollton, Laurel, College Park and Mount Rainier. There are also areas such as Largo that used to be Opportunity Zones but have been transformed through this type of investment.
The program allows for partnerships to form between investors and businesses, allowing the money to be invested in the community to overcome the challenges they currently face.
“It causes institutions and individual investors to invest in challenged communities in designated Opportunity Zones, and they won’t have any capital gains tax liability for any money that they make on the initial investment,” Mason said.
The three-hour conference brought together a full house of developers, investors, realtors and more and the event consisted of two sets of panelists.
The first panel, which consisted of Government Affairs Counselor of Team K&L Gates LLC Mary Burke-Baker, Director of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Frank Dickson, EDC Vice President of Business Development Ebony Stocks and Founder and CEO of BQOZ Zachary Chavez, gave an overview to participants of how the Opportunity Zones program works and why it is worthwhile to take part in it.
Burke-Baker, as well as Team K&L Gates LLC Partner Olivia Byrne, gave an overview of how investors can get involved in Opportunity Zones. He explained essential things to keep in mind when navigating the process while Dickson mentioned that Opportunity Zones near transit-oriented areas would be good to take advantage of as 11 of Prince George’s County’s 26 Opportunity Zones are located in such areas.
According to Stacks, there are many incentives that investors can take part in, whether through Opportunity Zones or not, that can benefit them and the area they invest in such as incentives in transit-oriented development areas, revitalization areas, enterprise zones and focus areas.
Additionally, the EDC has its own Economic Development Incentive Fund, a $50 million program where investors can take part in specific projects with a large impact on the county.
Chavez was involved in another Opportunity Zones program in Phoenix, Arizona and shared his ups and downs of the experience with the group.
Same of the things he said he learned from being a part of the process were the importance of timing, collaboration helping stakeholders to understand their role in the process and the importance of counties being very involved in the program.
“It’s really important for cities, states and counties to understand that the more they are championing this program, the more capital they are going to attract because they are seen as folks who are actively participating in getting over some of these hurdles.”
The second panel led a discussion of shovel ready sites for projects and market analysis by Aaron Murphy, Michael Cobb and Nicholas Mills from Team Costar, Chief Strategy Officer of the University of Maryland Ken Ullman and WMATA Senior Real Estate Advisor Andrew Scott.
Realtor Jerry Dawson, owner of JCDawson Global Real Estate in Bowie, said the program is appealing to him because as a realtor he may have clients or potential clients who may be interested in getting involved with Opportunity Zones.
“Hopefully it will help them get projects started that maybe they couldn’t afford to get started and at the end of the day bring revitalized areas where they can have thriving communities and businesses.”
David Foreman, an investor who attended the meeting, said listening to the panelists allowed him to see the game plan for Prince George’s County and where he can focus in on as an investor.
“As an investor, it opens doors and opportunities up of what’s going on in Prince George’s County and the opportunity for the average investor to invest in properties that in any other case they would not have the ability to do so,” he said.