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Springfield gains business ‘opportunity zone’ statuses

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Springfield is among 46 cities and counties statewide to garner “opportunity zones” as part of federal tax reform measures put into place last year.

The zones designate areas where businesses can earn state and federal tax incentives for creating jobs in high poverty areas with slow job growth, according to a news release.

Gov. Eric Greitens and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, jointly announced the selections this week. In total, 161 opportunity zones were chosen within the 46 cities and counties — some, such as Springfield, have more than one opportunity zone designation.

State of Missouri officials picked the zones after receiving recommendations from local municipalities. The U.S. Department of Treasury then certified the designations.

Springfield City Council voted Feb. 26 to apply for three opportunity zones: Center city, north Springfield, and a tract surrounding Bass Pro Shops. Springfield spokeswoman Melissa Haase said the zones cover 10 census tracts, meaning the city technically has 10 opportunity zones within the three broad areas.

“Because the greatest tax benefit to investors results from a long-term investment (seven years or longer) and the zone designation is only valid for 10 years, the most effective way to attract new private investment to our community using this program is to designate tracts where investment is anticipated within the next one to three years,” Springfield Economic Development Director Sarah Kerner said in a separate news release.

Other local opportunity zones are in:
    •    Bolivar;
    •    Branson;
    •    Dallas County;
    •    Lebanon; and
    •    Monett.

Under the program, businesses that create jobs in the zones would qualify for Treasury-certified capital gains tax deferrals based on their investment levels. Through the program, corporations and individuals can roll their money into “opportunity funds” to finance improvements. The money then funnels into the opportunity zones.

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