U.S. Treasury approves 25 Opportunity Zones in Montana, including one in Great Falls

The U.S. Treasury Department recently approved the 25 Opportunity Zones nominated by Gov. Steve Bullock.

Gov. Bullock nominates 25 areas for Opportunity Zone designation, including one in Great Falls

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 established a new economic development program called Opportunity Zones designed to encourage long-term private investment in low-income communities. The program provides a federal tax incentive for taxpayers who reinvest unrealized capital gains into “Opportunity Funds,” which are specialized investment vehicles dedicated to certain low-income areas called “Opportunity Zones.”

The areas considered for Opportunity Zones were census tracts with a poverty rate of 20 percent or more. Statewide, there were 106 tracts meeting that criteria but the federal government limited Montana to identifying just 25 for the designation.

Of the four areas nominated by Great Falls, one was selected for nomination by Gov. Steve Bullock.

The area selected in Great Falls is the northern side of the downtown core, from the northside of 1st Avenue South to the river and east to 10th Street.

The governor was able to nominate 25 areas of Montana for designation as an Opportunity Zone, based on areas proposed by communities for consideration.

Brett Doney of the Great Falls Development Authority said during Thursday’s Downtown Development Partnership meeting that once the regulations for the Opportunity Zones are releases, it could provide more incentive for investment in the area selected in Great Falls.

Doney said there’s no information yet on how the regulations will be structured, but industry experts anticipate the first investment beginning in 2019.