Weekly, Jones complain Opportunity Zones miss the mark

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The Opportunity Zone Index ranks the area surrounding the Las Vegas Raiders Stadium as one of two Southern Nevada zones with the most promise for investors seeking shelter from capital gains. Photo: Nevada Current
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The Opportunity Zone Index ranks the area surrounding the Las Vegas Raiders Stadium as one of two Southern Nevada zones with the most promise for investors seeking shelter from capital gains. Photo: Nevada Current

Clark County commissioners Justin Jones and Lawrence Weekly want to know who designated the low-income areas chosen by the state as eligible for a Trump administration tax break.

Opportunity Zones, a product of the Trump cuts passed by Republicans in 2017, provide a mechanism to shield wealthy investors from capital gains tax while feasibly improving low-income neighborhoods.

“The expectations are pretty huge,” Derek Armstrong of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development told County Commissioners Tuesday of the potential for investment from the very rich in low income areas. “There’s a huge market for using this program.”

Jones asked how an industrial area adjacent to McCarran International Airport qualified as a low-income census tract.

“Is Marnell (Properties) going to get a tax break because they’re building in a place they’re already at?” Jones asked.

Armstrong responded the tax break is restricted to new business interests but noted that existing business owners in qualifying tracts could undertake new ventures.

“I guess I’m not understanding what the benefit to the community is investing in an area that’s not underprivileged,” Jones said.

Weekly complained an area along Bonanza, Martin Luther King and up to Craig Road was not included in the designated tracts.

“That’s an area where a lot of people are struggling and didn’t even graduate from high school,” Weekly said.  “Look at what’s happening on Craig now. Where can you even go and eat on Craig? You have to go out of the neighborhood to find a restaurant.”

But Armstrong informed Weekly the area in question was not eligible for designation as a low-income tract because family incomes were too high.

“I’m just as excited about the (Las Vegas Raiders) stadium as anyone, but don’t show me a map where millions and billions are being spent,” Weekly complained of the Opportunity Zone that includes the stadium, industrial development and little residential.

Jones asked to review all the eligible census tracts as well as the criteria used to designate those selected as Opportunity Zones.

Kirkpatrick noted that some Opportunity Zones intersect with areas where other incentives are available.

“They are in redevelopment areas, tax incentive financing districts and they are Opportunity Zones.  Can they (investors) get all three?” Kirkpatrick asked. “That would make my hair stand on end.”

Armstrong informed Kirkpatrick that investors could stack incentives in an effort to improve low-income areas, but noted the state would be challenged to track them, given the fact Opportunity Zones are reported on federal tax returns, not with Nevada.

Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana is the mother of four adult children, three cats, three dogs and a cockatoo.

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