Gov. Larry Hogan came to Baltimore Thursday to propose spending $56.5 million to support development and business creation in Maryland’s "Opportunity Zones," areas in the state included in a federal tax-incentive program designed to direct investment into struggling communities.
Under a plan the governor announced Thursday, the state would create a series of initiatives to attract investment. Hogan’s plan involves offering additional state tax credits, job training programs, small business loans and affordable housing incentives, in some cases through proposed legislation.
No compatible source was found for this media.
Maryland’s 149 zones were selected by local and state officials and approved by the U.S. Treasury Department in April as part of an incentive tucked into federal tax reform in December 2017.
“Today’s important Opportunity Zone announcements strengthen our focus on and steadfast commitment to renewing hope and opportunity in every corner of our state,” Hogan said in an announcement. “These initiatives will foster an environment of economic opportunity for every single Marylander to create thousands of new Maryland jobs and to transform and revitalize the cities, towns, and local communities that need our help the most.”
Hogan announced the initiatives on the construction site of Walbrook Milll in West Baltimore, a five-acre abandoned lumber yard on North Avenue near Coppin State University that’s in one of Baltimore’s opportunity zones and is being redeveloped into 140 affordable and market-rate apartments and townhomes, shops and commercial, warehouse and industrial space.
Hogan said he is creating a task force by executive order, chaired by Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford, that will hold regional summits throughout the state where stakeholders can discuss options for development within opportunity zones. The task force will develop a State Opportunity Plan to align goals with the state’s economic and cultural priorities. The task force will work with local governments to help fast-track development.
Hogan’s administration plans to introduce the “More Opportunities for Marylanders Act of 2019,” which would extend a 10-year tax credit for each new job created by a company that locates or expands in an opportunity zone in Maryland. These companies would be eligible for an additional $6 million in tax credits, have 100 percent of their state property taxes exempted, and have all business recording, filing or special fees waived.
The state’s EARN workforce development grant program also will focus directly on the state’s 149 zones, with a new $3 million investment to establish a job training program, “Opportunity Works,” for businesses that locate in the zones. The state’s Department of Labor plans to issue competitive grants for qualified businesses to provide training programs that give participants a credential or identifiable skill.
The governor also is proposing legislation to invest $16 million in a new Maryland Technology Infrastructure Fund, housed with the state’s Technology Development Corp., or TEDCO, to help create a long-term strategic vision to leverage more than $500 million in planned investment over the next decade.
Other funding sources will be available through the state Department of Housing and Community Development. including $20 million for Rental Housing Works, to build and renovate affordable housing, $8 million for small business loans through the Neighborhood Business Works program, and $3.5 million for the statewide Strategic Demolition Fund for site acquisition and demolition of derelict buildings and redevelopment.
Hogan also said he is launching a website, the Maryland Opportunity Zone Information Exchange, to help attract capital to projects and businesses. The online exchange will serve as a virtual meeting place for investors, fund managers, property developers, new or expanding businesses, and local stakeholders, and will be open to the public.
“All of these efforts are ushering in a new era of revitalization and economic growth in Maryland as we are engaging with and listening to community leaders and key stakeholders in order to respond to the unique needs of communities from one corner of our state to the other,” Hogan said in a statement.
Hogan was to be joined at the Thursday event by Mayor Catherine Pugh, Rutherford and other state officials, and community members.