Montrose, CO — The City of Montrose in partnership with Montrose County, co-hosted an Opportunity Zone Engagement Workshop Tuesday in the City Council chambers focused on how to make the Montrose area more attractive for local and outside investment and development.
The workshop was designed to educate local investors about the Opportunity Zone program created as part of the 2017 federal tax reform package also known as the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," to encourage capital investment in low-growth and economically distressed communities across the country.
Representatives from Vita Nuova LLC, a consulting company focused on economic investment, moderated the workshop to answer questions and explain the program and various tax incentives.
Presenter Michael Malley of Vita Nuova said Montrose was highlighted in Forbes magazine in 2017 as a prime area for investment after sections of the city and county are designated within the Opportunity Zone program.
"That article spurred huge interest in the (Montrose) community," Malley said.
The hours-long workshop, with about 30 attendees comprised of local residents, city and county staff, also served as a brainstorm session with a focus on identifying what types of business investment could help with jobs, workforce housing, and various land use.
In January, the city along with Montrose County was selected to receive $25,000 from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to develop an opportunity zone prospectus to attract new investment in and around the Montrose community.
The technical assistance and administrative planning grant carry a local match with $25,000 shared evenly between the city and county.
Opportunity zones were nominated to the U.S. Treasury by the governors of each state in 2018 and are required to be low-income community census tracts.
Currently, there are 126 census tracts in Colorado designated as opportunity zones.
In exchange for investing in low-income urban and rural communities, investors have the potential to defer, reduce, or eliminate capital gains taxes. Potential eligible investments include, but are not limited to: funding the development of affordable and workforce housing, new infrastructure, and investing in start-up businesses.
“Opportunity zones have been deemed the most powerful economic development tool any of us will see in our lifetime,” says Chelsea Rosty, director of business innovation for the City of Montrose. “We at the city take that very seriously. The money from DOLA will fund the creation of a plan specific to our community ensuring the most advantageous use of the potential opportunity zone investment dollars.”
Four census tracts in Montrose County are designated as opportunity zones: 966100 (on the west side of the county), 966202, 966503, and 966300 (the latter three on the east side of the county). The opportunity zone prospectus will focus on census tracts on the east side of the county.
An opportunity zone prospectus is a marketing tool provided to investors to learn about the community’s growth priorities. The prospectus will include data on the city and population, a profile of strategic advantages, and an outline of essential projects in Montrose that will accept opportunity zone investments.
"There are so many positive things happening in the Montrose community. Creating this prospectus will allow us to highlight that this is a place worthy of investment. Having the opportunity zone designation is just a start. It's wonderful that DOLA is willing to assist the city and county in taking the next step towards making Montrose more visible to potential investors” said Jon Waschbusch, deputy county manager.
The goal of the prospectus is to show the city and county are ready for investment.
In submitting the request for funding on January 2, 2019, the city noted the urgency of developing the prospectus. The city’s urgency has intensified after the Montrose Opportunity Zone was highlighted in a July 2018 Forbes article “An Unlikely Group of Billionaires and Politicians Has Created the Most Unbelievable Tax Break Ever.” Since the article was published, Rosty and others have been inundated with calls from eager investors seeking to invest in Montrose.
Sara Kackar of Vita Nuova reported to the workshop Tuesday that the prospectus is set for a May 1 completion.
For more information about opportunity zones within Colorado and see a map of opportunity zones in Montrose County visit choosecolorado.com/opportunity-zones
For more City news visit CityOfMontrose.org.