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100 Counties Qualify for Fed Economic Development Aid

100 Counties Qualify for Fed Economic Development Aid
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Greenwood Welcome Sign
Courtesy: City of Greenwood

Mississippi communities are getting some help from a federal program to boost their efforts at recruiting economic development. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

Stone County is a rural area with a large timber industry. Betsy Rowell is with county's economic development partnership. She says attracting investors is extremely competitive within and outside the state. Rowell says a new federal program offering tax incentives for areas designated Opportunity Zones will give them a leg-up.

"That puts us in a category of visibility that we wouldn't ordinarily have. Having the incentives that come with the Opportunity Zones it something that's certainly a plus to us," said Rowell.

Mississippi has some 100 rural communities that qualify as Opportunity Zones through the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS. The goal? Attract private investors to develop businesses and projects in low-income rural areas. Shane Homan is with the Community Development Foundation in Tupelo. He thinks there are enough tax benefits to help mid-size cities like his, which developers see as higher risk locations for investment.

"It basically fills the gap needed that all of a sudden it becomes a valued return on investment for investors to go forward with the project," said Homan.

Angela Curry is with the Greenwood LeFlore Industrial Board. She hopes the new program will spur more industries such as food processing, plastics and advanced manufacturing already in the Delta.

"We've had local businesses who have taken advantage of these type initiatives or programs before and have managed to be successful and grow," said Curry.

Curry says they are waiting for more details about the new program. Seeing results could take two to three years.