Unlocking Economic Potential: Investing in Midwest Opportunity Zones

In recent years, Opportunity Zones (OZs) have emerged as a powerful economic development tool aimed at revitalizing distressed communities across the United States. These zones provide a unique opportunity for investors to channel their capital into low-income areas, fostering economic growth, job creation and community development. Among the regions embracing this initiative, the Midwest stands out, with numerous Opportunity Zones offering immense potential for transformation. Let’s delve into the intricacies of Opportunity Zones and explore how they are making a positive impact on the Midwest.

Understanding Opportunity Zones

Opportunity Zones were introduced as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, with the goal of stimulating investment in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. These designated zones, totaling to over 8,700 across the nation, are identified as areas in need of economic revitalization. The Midwest, spanning across 11 states and over 100 counties, is home to a substantial portion of these zones. Through Opportunity Zone investments, individuals can defer and potentially eliminate capital gains taxes, provided they meet specific criteria.

Benefits of Opportunity Zone Investments

The allure of Opportunity Zones lies in the array of benefits they offer to investors, communities and local businesses:

  1. Tax Benefits: Investors can postpone federal capital gains taxes on their investments for up to a decade, and by holding their investments for a minimum of ten years, they may completely avoid these taxes. This incentivizes long-term investment in the zones.
  2. Economic Development: Opportunity Zone investments can breathe new life into distressed communities by fostering economic growth, creating jobs and enhancing local infrastructure.
  3. Access to Capital: Underserved businesses and entrepreneurs gain access to much-needed capital, accelerating their growth and contributing to the overall development of the community.

Navigating Opportunity Zone Investments

Engaging in Opportunity Zone investments necessitates an understanding of the regulations governing them. Investors are typically required to retain their investments for at least five years to qualify for tax benefits. Additionally, they must invest in a qualified Opportunity Zone business, which fulfills specific location and operational criteria.

Prime Midwest Opportunity Zones

Several Midwest cities have seized the potential of Opportunity Zones to spur their revitalization:

  1. Chicago: With over 70 Opportunity Zones, Chicago’s South and West sides have garnered significant attention. These zones, populated by low-income residents and businesses, offer a promising canvas for investment-driven transformation.
  2. Indianapolis: Boasting more than 50 Opportunity Zones, Indianapolis has targeted its downtown core and airport vicinity for development. These areas, already housing a growing number of businesses and startups, are poised for further advancement through Opportunity Zone investments.
  3. St. Louis: Home to over 40 Opportunity Zones, including areas near the iconic Arch and downtown, St. Louis seeks to rejuvenate its historic neighborhoods and structures.
  4. Detroit: Detroit’s 50-plus Opportunity Zones, in neighborhoods like Corktown and Eastern Market, hold the potential to revitalize the city, breathe new life into its cultural fabric and generate employment opportunities.
  5. Cleveland: Cleveland’s 30-plus Opportunity Zones, encompassing neighborhoods such as East Cleveland and Hough, present a chance to enhance community well-being and quality of life.
  6. Milwaukee: With over 20 Opportunity Zones, Milwaukee’s Harambee, Lindsay Heights and Washington Park zones offer prospects to shape the city’s future through strategic investments.

Leveraging Sellable Tax Credits

One intriguing aspect of Opportunity Zone investments is the option to sell tax credits to other investors seeking to claim the associated benefits. This allows investors to cash out their investments early, providing them with liquidity. However, understanding the intricate rules of sellable tax credits is paramount, and consultation with a tax advisor is strongly recommended to maximize the advantages.

Realizing The Potential of Midwest Opportunity Zones

Opportunity Zones present an unprecedented opportunity to drive positive change in the Midwest. By strategically channeling investments into these designated areas, stakeholders can stimulate economic growth, create jobs and foster vibrant communities. While the regulatory landscape might appear intricate, the long-term benefits for investors and the revitalization of distressed areas make it a venture worthy of exploration.

As you contemplate entering the world of Opportunity Zone investments, remember that informed decision-making is key. Conduct thorough research, seek expert guidance and weigh the potential risks against the substantial benefits. By doing so, you can become an active participant in reshaping the landscape of the Midwest and unlocking its untapped potential.

If you would like further information or have questions, please contact Jenny Massey or your Sikich contact.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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