Weirton gets Opportunity Zone designation

WEIRTON — A portion of the city of Weirton has been certified with a federal designation aimed at attracting new private investment and encouraging economic development in the community.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., announced Friday Weirton has received certification from the U.S. Department of Treasury as an Opportunity Zone, under a program created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and will be eligible for a new federal tax incentive designed to encourage private investment.

Weirton has one of 55 areas in West Virginia selected for such a designation, which will last for 10 years.

The Opportunity Zone designation is aimed primarily at the city’s downtown and some adjacent neighborhoods, according to city officials.

“We are eager to move forward with this new incentive in our toolbox to support economic revitalization in our Downtown Redevelopment Area as well as our Marland Heights and Cove Road neighborhoods,” Mayor Harold Miller said. “Residents, businesses and investors are eager to see reinvestment in the community, and this federal tax incentive can bring new investment to the City of Weirton.”

The program offers deferred taxes and capital gains tax breaks to those willing to sustain investment in low-income areas. According to city officials, each governor was able to designate up to 25 percent of the total number of low-income census tracks in their state as an Opportunity Zone.

“These Opportunity Zones will help to revitalize many areas across West Virginia and spur private investments that will create economic growth, new development and job opportunities for our citizens,” Justice said. “This is more great news for our state. It continues our movement forward and the hope for brighter days ahead.”

Capito, who was a co-sponsor of the provision creating the Opportunity Zones said she looks forward to working with local and state officials making use of the new economic development tool.

“Congress passed, and President Trump signed, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year to provide tax relief, benefits and opportunities to families, workers and small businesses in West Virginia and across the country,” Capito said. “These Opportunity Zones are yet another way tax reform is going to help West Virginians create jobs, drive economic growth and attract investment in areas that need it most.”

The certification is the latest announcement for economic development and redevelopment opportunities in Weirton.

In March, Capito, along with U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., were in Weirton to announce $1.2 million in federal Economic Development Administration funds for projects in the Three Springs Business Park.

“While funding from the U.S. EPA and U.S. EDA have been a catalyst for economic development in the north end and along Three Springs Drive, the Opportunity Zone designation on Marland Heights, Downtown and the Cove Road corridor areas of Weirton will present an exciting opportunity to stimulate investment in these neighborhoods in Weirton,” Patrick Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, said.

The city of Wheeling also is among the certified Opportunity Zones, with a focus on areas along state Route 2, I-70, I-470 and the Ohio River.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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