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June 27, 2019 -- How can Northeast Indiana and Fort Wayne boost development in economically distressed communities?

Many federal incentive programs have been created over the years, including the New Markets Tax Credit, Empowerment Zones and more; however, the newest investment incentive—Opportunity Zones—may have the most significant tax benefits yet. To better understand how to leverage this new investment tool, the City of Fort Wayne participated in an event hosted by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Leveraging Opportunity Zones was an informational event that featured input from Katz, Sapper & Miller, Barrett McNagny, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, NCT Ventures, 10x Engineered Materials and the City of Fort Wayne. The event was sponsored by First Federal Bank.

Presenters and panelists included:
• Sharon Feasel, City of Fort Wayne
• Chad Halstead, Katz, Sapper & Miller, LLP
• Rich Langdale, NCT Ventures
• Tom Niezer, Barrett McNagny LLP
• Mark Wasky, Indiana Economic Development Corporation

The Opportunity Zones incentive is a new community investment tool established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities.

As a private sector investment tool, Opportunity Zones provide a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into dedicated opportunity funds or qualified opportunity zones funds, where it could help finance small businesses, new construction, development of blighted properties or local infrastructure projects.

“Opportunity Zones are a powerful incentive to increase investment in critical areas of Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana. By informing regional business and community leaders about the incentive, the process and the benefits, we are empowering our region’s leaders to strengthen our community in areas of greatest need,” said Ellen Cutter, vice president of economic development at Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

During the event, regional stakeholders were able to learn about the step-by-step process to take advantage of the Opportunity Zone incentive by regional experts. Following the formal presentation, a panel of experts discussed the most recent myths, pitfalls and trends in Opportunity Zone investments.

“By leveraging the power of Opportunity Zones, we will be able to harness much-needed private capital to flow to our regional communities and empower state and local leaders to build a more prosperous future,” said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

“First Federal Bank is proud to partner with Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership to sponsor this seminar. Fully understanding the investment parameters and unique investment possibilities within these opportunity zones could prove to be transformational to the Fort Wayne market,” said Greg Allen, Fort Wayne market area executive for First Federal Bank. “Fort Wayne is an amazing city that is experiencing tremendous growth and significant investment at this time. Our Fort Wayne team is very excited to be a part of the momentum here. It is an incredible time to be a part of this great community.”

Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and the City of Fort Wayne created a resource showcasing completed projects and promoting potential future development in Allen County's Opportunity Zones. Less than 10 communities across the country have published a prospectus on Opportunity Zones, putting Fort Wayne on the forefront of this effort nationally. To read the prospectus, please visit oppzones.gfwinc.com.

In Northeast Indiana, designated Opportunity Zones can be found in Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Steuben, Wabash and Wells counties.
To read more about news in Northeast Indiana, visit the website at www.neindiana.com/news.