Westchester County Executive George Latimer participated in a round table discussion on opportunity zones in the County. Eight zones in Westchester County have been identified on eligible low-income census tracts. 

The Opportunity Zones Program is a bipartisan measure of the tax reform bill passed in 2017. Opportunity zones can provide investment capital to municipalities to spur economic development by attracting new investors to distressed areas of urban and rural communities. The revitalization will use private investments rather than taxpayer dollars to stimulate private participation. Investors are eligible to benefit from capital gains tax incentives available exclusively through this program.

Latimer said: “This program carries benefits for developers and investors but we also want it to reflect positively on our municipalities. We want our communities to see real growth and have the opportunity to participate and see the impact.”

In Westchester County, opportunity zones have been identified in Cortlandt, Mount Pleasant/Valhalla, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Peekskill, Port Chester, White Plains and Yonkers.

Proposed reforms by President Joe Biden’s administration are being considered including requiring investors to provide detailed information about their project including its potential impact on poverty rates, housing affordability and job creation. Another consideration is a review of benefits to ensure tax breaks are authorized only if a project clearly yields economic, social and environmental advantages for a community.

Director of the Westchester County Office of Economic Development Bridget Gibbons said: “The proposed reforms will provide accountability of investors and community benefits including generating jobs and improving household finances of families living within these opportunity zones.”

Elmsford based consulting firm Ferrandino and Associates Inc., will be working closely with local municipalities to prepare a plan to redevelop the opportunity zones. The firm will support municipalities while advising and interacting with private investors, developers as well as federal and state agencies.

Principal and CEO of Ferrandino and Associates Inc., Vince Ferrandino said: “Our goal is to assist communities to maximize opportunity zone benefits, while encouraging developers to invest in underserved neighborhoods and meet the needs of the community.”

Additional roundtables have been scheduled with the next one slated in August.