Local business professionals learn about Opportunity Zone incentives


ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Investors in Baldwin County have a huge opportunity to take advantage of a tax incentive program.

A packed house of Real Estate and investment professionals filled the Baldwin Realtor office in Robertsdale on Tuesday to hear about Opportunity Zones, a program hosted by Baldwin Realtors and the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce.

“I want to start by commending Baldwin County,” said program presenter Alex Flachsbart, founder and CEO of Opportunity Alabama, a non-profit organization dedicated driving capital into Alabama’s distress communities. “This is by far the largest turnout at one of these seminars that I have been involved in.”

According to a release issued before Tuesday’s seminar by the North Baldwin Chamber, buried in the tax reform bill that was signed into law in 2017 is a new place-based economic development program that could eventually lead to billions in investment in certain designated communities.

The program offers a series of tax incentives to investors who deploy capital gains into "Opportunity Zones" - certain historically low-income Census designated by Governor Kay Ivey in March of 2018.

There have been designated Opportunity Zones in all 67 counties in Alabama, Flachsbart said, with a large portion of Baldwin County, including a large chunk of undeveloped property north of Interstate 10 all the way to Interstate 65, and a wide area around Foley.

“Baldwin County has a large opportunity zone with a ton of potential for growth in those areas, hosting this summit and having Alex present along with a local panel to answer questions hopefully brought a greater understanding of the ‘opportunity’ we have here and how to take advantage of the program and incentives,” said Ashley Jones Davis , executive director with the North Baldwin Chamber. “Opportunity Zones and this way of reinvesting capital gains with tax liability deferment provides one more opportunity to enhance economic development incentives here in Baldwin County, it is another tool in our toolbox for growth and development and hopefully today the individuals in attendance walked away with a greater understanding of how to put that tool to use for them and/or their clients."

More than 90 people attended Tuesday’s seminar, Jones Davis said.

Flachsbart presented the incentives that comprise this new program and how investors can receive them. He then explored how the tool may be used to finance active businesses and real estate investment in these Opportunity Zones – and how that investment might benefit developers, business owners, and local communities.

Following Flachsbart’s presentation, there was a panel discussion which included several local business community leaders, including Lee Lawson, president and CEO with the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance; Phillip Rivers, CPA with Warren Averett; Drew Dolan, chief of staff with 68 Ventures; and Alex Jones, president, United Bank Community Development LLC.

“During the presentation you saw a map which showed that Baldwin County has a large area that has been designated within the ‘Opportunity Zone,’” Lawson said. “That is not by accident. That is not by coincidence. We fought hard for that.”

This summit was the first of its kind to come to this region, and with two areas in North and South Baldwin County, this education opportunity will benefit not only Realtors in the area, but also developers, elected officials, local business owners, civic leaders, community foundations, accountants, attorneys, property owners, and more, Jones Davis said.

If you would like more information on this opportunity, you can visit OpportunityAlabama.com, call the North Baldwin Chamber at 251-937-5665 or Baldwin Realtors at 251-947-3777.