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Downtown Willmar on Opportunity Zone recommendation list

WILLMAR -- Downtown Willmar is among 128 low-income census tracts in Minnesota that have been recommended by Gov. Mark Dayton for designation as an Opportunity Zone, a new federal program to spur economic development at the local level. Dayton su...

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WILLMAR - Downtown Willmar is among 128 low-income census tracts in Minnesota that have been recommended by Gov. Mark Dayton for designation as an Opportunity Zone, a new federal program to spur economic development at the local level.

Dayton submitted the list of recommendations Friday to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Opportunity Zones are a new economic and community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term economic development and housing investments in low-income communities nationwide.

Under the law, governors are authorized to designate 25 percent of eligible census tracts as Opportunity Zones in their state. In Minnesota, 509 tracts were eligible.

Kandiyohi County submitted two for consideration: the downtown district, which was selected as one of the governor's recommendations, and a stretch of South First Street, which was not chosen.

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Also selected for the recommendation list were eligible census tracts in Big Stone, Chippewa, Meeker, Redwood, Renville, Swift and Yellow Medicine Counties.

Local communities were asked earlier this year to prioritize eligible census tracts and submit them to the governor's office.

Once approved by the U.S. Department of Treasury, projects in Opportunity Zones will be eligible for funding through Opportunity Funds, an investment vehicle set up as either a partnership or corporation for investing in eligible property located in an Opportunity Zone. Guidelines for Opportunity are being developed by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service and should be available later this year.

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