Opportunity Zone new tool for St. Landry towns

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

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“Building strong communities is vital to maintaining economic growth across the parish.” Rodier said. “This is particularly important in the seat of parish government, and especially in Opelousas, which is one of the oldest communities in the state with historic and cultural roots important to all of south Louisiana, and in Eunice, one of the gateway communities of the parish.”


Opelousas and Eunice have been nominated by Gov. John Bel Edwards for inclusion in a new program that could bring much-needed investment capital into the St. Landry Parish communities.

The federal Opportunity Zone program was created in 2017 to offer tax advantages to private investors who make long-term investments in lower income communities. It provides a rich new pool of investment money to qualifying places.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the nominations April 20, saying that “Opportunity Zones represent another chance to enhance Louisiana’s quality of life and business climate by providing more reasons to invest in our state and our people.”

The goal of the Opportunity Zone program is to give private investors an incentive for to put money into places that might otherwise be overlooked or passed by. States were asked to nominate areas where the local community is already working to improve the business and development climate.

State Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, who represents Opelousas, said the nomination of the parish seat is the result of collaboration between local, state, and federal officials. St. Landry Rep. Dustin Miler said the designation will help bring new business to the community.    Legislation sponsored by Boudreaux and Miller was approved last year to expand the authority and boundaries of the Opelousas Downtown Development District in what Miler then called “the important first step” in making downtown Opelousas “a place once again filled with thriving businesses.”

That legislation played a role in the selection of the community as an Opportunity Zone, according to St. Landry economic development director Bill Rodier.

“With the newly created downtown development district in Opelousas, this is the right time for a significant growth opportunity in the heart of St. Landry Parish.” He said. “The Opportunity Zone program will be a great tool as we work to stimulate growth not only in Opelousas but throughout the parish.”

According to Gov. Edwards, state officials :conducted a public comment period in March and applied extensive analysis to this selection process. The result will be communities and properties we can be proud to offer as attractive locations to investors. We will encourage our banks and investment community, as well as our local governments and financing authorities, to join us in attracting investment to Louisiana communities that need it most.”

Essentially the program allows investors to defer or reduce their federal tax liability on the sale of appreciated assets if they place the gains into a new Opportunity Fund. The idea of the program is to use money that would not otherwise be available because of the capital gains tax consequences.

Economists estimate that there are as much as $2.2 trillion of unrealized capital gains in stocks and mutual funds held by individuals and corporations that potentially will be available for investment in Opportunity Zone communities nationwide.

“Building strong communities is vital to maintaining economic growth across the parish.” Rodier said. “This is particularly important in the seat of parish government, and especially in Opelousas, which is one of the oldest communities in the state with historic and cultural roots important to all of south Louisiana, and in Eunice, one of the gateway communities of the parish.”

Also named in this area are Church Point, Ville Platte, Jennins, Lafayette and Oakdale

Individuals or businesses interested in investing through the Opportunity Zone program can find more information at www.cdfifund.gov/pages/opportunity-zones.aspx.

Three things to know about this story:

  1. The goal of the Opportunity Zone program is to give private investors an incentive for long-term investment in communities that might otherwise be overlooked.
  2. Legislation sponsored by Sen Gerald Boudreaux and Rep. Dustin Miller played a role in the selection of Opelousas.
  3. Economists estimate that there are as much as $2.2 trillion of unrealized capital gains in stocks and mutual funds held by individuals and corporations that potentially will be available nationwide.

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