Q&A with Karl Stauber on Opportunity Zones

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Karl had great hopes that Opportunity Zone legislation would support economic development in rural cities like Danville but after one year, he's not convinced.

The promise of Opportunity Zones (OZs) is that tax incentives would drive new capital into disinvested communities like Danville.  What are you observing so far?

So far we are seeing little activity.  There is lots of talk, but no apparent action so far.  Part of my concern is that OZs will have an unintentional bias in favor of large projects to justify all the legal and developmental costs.  That will make it difficult for such efforts to happen in smaller communities.

 

In your article for the Virginia Impact Report, you noted that investing in local real estate was part of Danville Regional Foundation's impact investing strategy.  Are Opportunity Zones impacting this strategy?

So far Opportunity Zones appear to be slowing down (real estate) investments here.  Some private sector investors/developers are very adept at using New Market and Historic Tax credits.  OZ is being seen as having potential, but that potential is not yet being realized.  That is slowing down some potential projects.

Karl Stauber is the Danville Regional Foundation’s President and CEO. Over his career, Stauber has served for the Northwest Area Foundation, the Needmor Fund, and the Babcock Foundation.