Economic leaders hold ‘Appalachian Highlands Opportunity Zone Road Show’

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- Business leaders determined to spur more economic growth throughout the region held an event showcasing Opportunity Zones on Tuesday.

Around 130 guests came to the MeadowView Convention Center for the ‘Appalachian Highlands Opportunity Zone Road Show.’ Leaders said they hope these zones will bring new businesses, jobs, housing, and tourism to the region.

Opportunity Zones are designated areas in economically-distressed communities. They are meant to attract new capital investment by offering long-term tax incentives.

SEE ALSO: The economic development tool bringing new investment into the region

Federal legislation known as the Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017 allowed the creation of Opportunity Zones nationwide.

“There’s 8,700 [Opportunity Zones] across the country,” said Jason Hudson, Kingsport’s director of economic development. “Kingsport has two, and so we’re working to build those two zones.”

Kingsport’s Opportunity Zones are in the downtown area and in Hawkins County across from BAE Systems. Town Park Lofts in Kingsport is one project Opportunity Zones have already allowed.

Hudson said Tuesday’s Road Show was about educating potential investors on the incentives of building in Opportunity Zones in Kingsport and beyond.

“The event is really to help raise awareness for the entire region of Upper-East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia,” Hudson said.

With Opportunity Zones, capital gains can be deferred in taxes until 2026. Depending on how long an investment is held, it’s possible to permanently exclude any capital gains tax from one’s post acquisition gains.

Slides explained different tax incentives offered by Opportunity Zone investment

Aside from attracting outside investors to the region, economic developers hope this will benefit businesses already based in the Tri-Cities.

“I think it’s better to grow companies than recruit companies,” said regional entrepreneur John Cannon. “Because we can grow companies for people who already live here and want to stay here.”

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