Five areas in Fort Bend County are among the 628 census tracts that Gov. Greg Abbott has recommended for designation in the Opportunity Zone Program, an initiative established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
The program provides tax incentives to encourage investment in low-income areas, with eligible census tracts having at least a 20 percent poverty rate and median family income of no more than 80 percent of the region’s median income, among other criteria.
“Opportunity zones give us a new tool for our economic development toolbox, and, better still, we can use them to create jobs in economically disadvantaged communities,” said Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert.
The largest identified tract in Fort Bend County is along Highway 36 west of Rosenberg including portions of Beasley extending north of Highway 90A to the Brazos River.
“This area is critical to the commercial, industrial, manufacturing and infrastructure development in Fort Bend County because of its proximity to Highway 36, the deep-water Port Freeport and class 1 railroads operating in the area,” said Jeffrey C. Wiley, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Fort Bend Economic Development Council. “While we are very pleased with this designation and the much-needed boost it offers to this area of Fort Bend County, it is disappointing that the contiguous tract designated to the west was not named an opportunity zone, as well.”
Other designated opportunity zones recommended by the governor include an area along Highway 90 in Richmond and one to the east along Highway 90 and Highway 99. Two tracts in Missouri City also were identified.
The opportunity zones provide incentives for developers and businesses to invest long-term in low-income neighborhoods. The incentives include temporary tax deferral for capital gains reinvested into an Opportunity Fund benefitting the neighborhood, an increase of the value of capital gains reinvested in the fund and a permanent exclusion from taxable income of capital gains from the sale or exchange of an investment in an Opportunity Fund if the investment is held for at least 10 years.
“Because there is a time factor to these incentives, it allows a significant, life-changing investment into these communities, which is especially impactful since these areas were hard hit by Hurricane Harvey,” Wiley said.
There were 15 possible census tracts and seven contiguous areas in Fort Bend County that could be designated opportunity zones. Gov. Abbott could name only 25 percent of the eligible 2,674 qualifying areas in the state to be opportunity zones. Harris County received the most designations, with 105 census tracts nominated for consideration.
Learn more about Fort Bend County and other business opportunities in the county at www.fortbendcounty.com.