Barnstable & Yarmouth Selected for State’s 1st Opportunity Zone Academy

BARNSTABLE – Two Cape Cod communities have been selected to participate in the first ever Opportunity Zones Academy through LOCUS and Smart Growth America.

National and private sector experts will come to Barnstable and Yarmouth to help advance smart growth best practices and policies to revitalize their Opportunity Zones while expanding economic opportunity for residents and businesses.

“Participation in the academy consists of technical assistance to equip our community with the tools, skills and knowledge necessary to promote sustainable growth and development,” said Mark Ells, the Barnstable Town Manager.

Staff in the two communities will meet with national and regional leaders, along with LOCUS experts, to identify key community priorities and action items to achieve smart growth development, public and private investment and equity goals.

“The academy aims to ensure that Massachusetts communities are prepared to make the most out of federal Opportunity Zone tax incentives,” Ells said.

The six communities in the state were selected through a competitive process based on their strong commitment and desire to achieve positive environmental, social and economic outcomes in their Opportunity Zones.

The Opportunity Zone in Barnstable includes the commercial center, Main Street and downtown Hyannis, and the commercial and recreational harbor. The area has permitting incentives in place and the town is seeking to encourage housing development and commercial growth.

In Yarmouth, the Opportunity Zone is bordered by the Bass River, Parker’s River and Nantucket Sound, which presents unique opportunities for investment and commercial development.

“Essentially, it is a program that allows investors to set up dedicated opportunity funds and then defer capital gains if they keep those funds invested either in real estate or business opportunities in your community for a period of years,” said Elizabeth Jenkins, the planning & development director in Barnstable.

The program is a tax incentive for investment that is supposed to support sustainable and equitable development in communities.

“We were very pleased to be accepted,” Jenkins said.

“And we kick it off at the end of the month.

Participants will travel to Washington, D.C. for a kickoff training session at the National LOCUS Leadership Summit June 23-24.

During the summer and fall, LOCUS and Smart Growth America’s experts will provide a combination of training and peer-to-peer learning opportunities, as well as policy recommendation reports, on how to leverage interest in their Opportunity Zones.

Local real estate professionals will also be tasked with providing market insights in order to identify pipelines of “right-sized” projects for the Opportunity Zones.

President of LOCUS Massachusetts and LOCUS National Steering Committee member Doug Landry is eager to work in the Massachusetts communities selected.

“This technical assistance academy enables us to share national best practices for revitalization and development in Opportunity Zones by bringing planners, developers, and other professionals together,” Landry said. “By engaging development professionals from the private sector we hope to provide exceptional assistance to the six communities we are working with.”

The other Massachusetts communities chosen include Fitchburg, Salem, and a team of Greenfield and Montague.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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