Crossett has two designated Opportunity Zones and the city council members said they are hopeful the zones will bring in industry.
“It’s not the answer to all of our problems, but in light of our recent announcement, it gives us hope,” council member Crystal Marshall said.
Marshall told the council Monday that Crossett was one of the state’s 337 qualified tracts that Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) officials chose based on their potential for economic success and ability to attract investment.
Established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones provide tax incentives for private investment in low-income communities nationwide.
“So what this does, in a nutshell, is really incentivize industry, qualifying industry, to move here and to invest here and to stay here,” Marshall said.
Eligible zones are based on U.S. Census tracts, and governors of each state were able to nominate up to 25 percent of eligible tracts for approval. Benefits for investors include a temporary tax deferral for capital gains, a step-up basis for capital gains invested, and a permanent exclusion from taxable income of capital gains from the sale or exchange of an investment in a qualified opportunity zone fund if the investment is held for at least 10 years.
“The biggest break comes after 10 years,” Marshall said.
Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) officials said the tracts nominated were chosen based on their potential for economic success and ability to attract investors.
Crossett Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Mike Smith said that Crossett was fortunate to have two.
“One runs southeast of town and captures all of the industrial park area and the other one kind of wraps up the other side of Crossett and captures Georgia Pacific and on out north close to Cloverdale,” Smith said.
A recent news release issued by Arkansas Economic Development said that the U.S. Treasury will approve a total of approximately 8,700 Opportunity Zones nationwide. Federal estimates are that potential capital eligible for reinvestment in the zones will total $6.1 trillion.
In addition to being named an Opportunity Zone, Crossett has completed the Competitive Communities Initiative (CCI) evaluation that aims to ensure the city’s preparedness to successfully compete for jobs and investments. Council Councilwoman Lynn Rodgers said Monday that Crossett is the smallest city and the first city in south Arkansas to receive the designation.
“The program is designed to identify ways a community can be more competitive,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said that Smith had worked very hard and diligently on the project and said he was praised by the state economic commissioners for his work during a visit last week.
Council members also discussed how important it is to stay positive and to build Crossett up, and to not let the recent announcement of layoffs at Georgia Pacific breed negativity. Rodgers said there was a lot of positive that could be discussed over the negative and other council members echoed her sentiments.
“There’s a lot of good we can talk about,” Councilman James Knight said.
Rodgers said it was important that residents build Crossett up, especially when talking to others.
“We all need to keep in our mind how important it is that we talk good about our town,” Rodgers said. “We never know who we are in front of or who we are standing at a gas pump with and we need to be encouraged that we do have a future.”
In other news:
-The council adopted a resolution for the new water meter project. The resolution was needed as a step in financing the project.
-The council approved a firework variance for Century Next Bank for this year and years to come. Century Next will continue the annual fireworks display previously put on by First National Bank of Crossett , which merged with Century Next’s predecessor, Bank of Ruston.
-Marshal had an update on the the Arkansas Muncipal League conference. In her presentation, she informed the council of new law changes including one stating that all government meetings have to be recorded and kept on file in the clerk’s office for at least one year.