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New consortium to promote, facilitate investments in state 'opportunity zones'

November 16, 2018

Investors who want to take advantage of the “opportunity zones” provision created by last year’s federal tax overhaul are about to receive more help in Indiana.

On Friday, a group of public and private organizations is scheduled to launch the Opportunity Investment Consortium of Indiana—a deal portal for opportunity zones in Indiana.

Opportunity zones are part of a community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide.The program provides investors substantial capital-gains tax breaks and, in some cases, allows them to avoid paying the tax bill altogether.

In April, Gov. Eric Holcomb designated 156 census tracts to become opportunity zones. The tracts are in 58 counties covering all or portions of 83 cities and towns throughout the state. There are 36 tracts in Marion County.

The Opportunity Investment Consortium of Indiana will receive support from groups including Cinnaire, Indy Chamber, Indiana Bond Bank, Indiana Economic Development Corp., Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority.

The Indianapolis office for the Local Initiatives Support Corp. will host the deal portal, which has launched  at www.opportunityinvestmentconsortium.com.

“We are creating an identified pipeline of projects that not only could be invested in by local investors but also by national investors in opportunity funds,” said Tedd Grain, executive director of the Indianapolis LISC office.

The Opportunity Investment Consortium of Indiana plans to match up investors with eligible deals. Its strategy includes an online pairing tool and regular meetings to mobilize support for challenging projects.

Every neighborhood that LISC is involved in either overlaps or is completely included in the census tracts identified by the governor and approved by the U.S. Treasury Department.

“The reason LISC is engaged in this at all is we are interested in inclusive growth and development that benefits the communities where these opportunity zones are located,” Grain said.

The investments could go to real estate projects, such as affordable housing or health care facilities, or into businesses that create jobs in opportunity zone neighborhoods.

The consortium will host a launch event Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the United Way of Central Indiana Ruth Lilly Room, 2955 N. Meridian St.

Organizers expect more than 100 community partners and potential investors to hear from expert panelists to learn how they can benefit from opportunity zones.

The Fifth Third Foundation of Fifth Third Bank is scheduled to announced a $100,000 gift to the consortium at the event.

Kevin Hipskind, market president of Fifth Third Bank, said the consortium’s portal will help investors identify opportunities in the areas where they have an interest.

“One of the biggest challenges around all these initiatives put on by the state and federal government is people don’t know enough about them to really utilize them,” he said.

He said the program is likely “to bring dollars into communities that wouldn’t have otherwise seen dollars for development.”

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