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IDB to host opportunity zones workshop

The Chilton County Industrial Development Board and Opportunity Alabama are teaming up to host a workshop to discuss opportunity zones in the state.

The workshop is free to the public and will be held at the Alabama Power Conference Center in Clanton from 10 a.m. to noon on Dec. 10.

According to the ADECA website, the governor’s office used input from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to identify 158 “opportunity zones” across the state’s 67 counties.

One of the zones sits in Chilton County and was chosen through a process that involved 629 qualifying census tracts. The tracts ranged between average populations of 1,200 to 8,000 and varied in size from 199 to 235,352 acres.

Chilton County’s zone consists of 15,966 acres and stretches along the west side of Interstate 65.

The most northern end of the zone goes to County Road 43, and the boundary then cuts down County Road 29, turns left at County Road 37 before taking another left onto Alabama Highway 22, which is also Fourth Avenue N. The boundary line then takes a right turn onto Sixth Street N, left onto First Avenue N, right onto Fifth Street S and finally left onto Second Avenue S or Lake Mitchell Road which heads back to the highway.

“I’m trying to reach out to those land owners [in the zone] for them to be able to take advantage of this workshop to see if they can maximize their property,” IDB Director Whitney Barlow said.

The opportunity zones initiative is part of the tax reform package that was signed into law in December 2017. The goal of the program is to be used as a tool that helps promote economic development.

According to Barlow, an investor gets capital gains and to offset their capital gains they can take the gain, not the principle, and invest it into an opportunity fund, which can be setup by filling out a simple form with the IRS.

“From that, there is a timeline that they create that fund and invest into a business,” Barlow said. “You have to be within the zone to get the gain.”

Barlow invites anyone who is interested in developing Chilton County, has land in the opportunity zone or is thinking about purchasing land in the zone to attend the free workshop.

“It’s about understanding how the components of the opportunity zone works, so that we can create a fund or set of funds that focus on growth and economic development in Chilton County,” Barlow said.

Opportunity Alabama Director Alex Flachsbart will run the workshop.

“He is very, very, very knowledge of how this opportunity zone concept works and how it impacts people,” Barlow said.

Barlow stated that the workshop would not just be helpful for land and business owners, but also for attorneys, accountants and anyone who deals with investments.

“It’s a really good opportunity for us to seize a moment with us being centrally located on two [interstate] exits that don’t have a huge amount of growth yet,” Barlow said. “We can really maximize our potential.”