Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Feds affirm 6 Harrisburg census tracts as “Opportunity Zones”

These census tracts were approved as Harrisburg’s Qualified Opportunity Zones.

The federal government has approved all of the census tracts nominated for a new program aimed at spurring development in low-income communities, the commonwealth announced today.

Six of those tracts are in Harrisburg.

“Approval of our nominated tracts is an important step in the process of bringing critical investment and development to these areas,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement. “Designation as an opportunity zone is one piece of the puzzle that can help many of our distressed communities across the commonwealth.”

In April, Wolf nominated 300 low-income census tracts across the state as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZ), a status created under the 2017 federal tax reform bill. All were accepted.

Six of Harrisburg’s 14 census tracts were included in Wolf’s submission. The potential investment zones encompass the city’s downtown area south of Forster Street, South Harrisburg, South and Central Allison Hill and the neighborhoods along the city’s Cameron Street industrial corridor.

The QOZ program aims to stimulate investment in low-income communities by providing tax breaks to private investors. It’s expected to defer or reduce capital gains taxes to anyone who invests in funds supporting businesses, real estate and other ventures in the zones.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is still in the process of developing the program, and the IRS is expected to provide further information regarding opportunities for investment in zones in the coming months, according to Wolf’s office.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse previously said that the recommended zones aligned with the city’s current development efforts, including the MulDer Square revitalization project and the Paxton Creek reclamation in the industrial corridor.

To qualify for QOZ status, a census tract had to have at least a 20-percent poverty rate or a median family income less than 80 percent of the statewide or regional median income.

The list of approved tracts, an interactive map and additional information about the opportunity zone program can be found at DCED’s Qualified Opportunity Zones website.

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