MARINETTE, Wis. (WFRV) — A bus tour was lead through Marinette and Menominee, Michigan Tuesday afternoon, giving officials a glimpse of the area’s Opportunity Zones.
“Opportunity Zones have a high poverty rate,” Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council explained. “They have a low median income, in most cases they have a high crime rate. They have a lack of quality education.”
According to the IRS, Qualified Opportunity Zones were created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
The zones were created to encourage development in underserved areas through tax incentives.
The Zones can then be used to address the needs of the community.
“Anytime an initiative is led by the people of that city or that community, that success rate is so much higher,” Turner said.
One of Marinette’s biggest needs is affordable housing.
“Affordable housing is affordable housing,” Turner said, “but that may look different here than in St. Louis. Retail is retail, but that may look different in downtown Tamaqua, Pennslyvania than it looks here. Both small, rural towns, but they may look different.”
Even though the tax incentives are only available on property officially deemed an Opportunity Zone, Turner said development in those areas can have a ripple effect throughout the community.
“New businesses can be created to be a supporting business to the shipbuilding industry or the maritime industry,” he said.
The group toured Menominee, although that city does not host any Opportunity Zones.
“They have people that live in Menominee but work here, and vice versa,” Turner explained. “That’s the beauty of these two cities being so close together.”
For a map of Qualified Opportunity Zones across the country, click here.