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Understanding Opportunity Zones

"Opportunity zones" are part of a federal community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and introduced by SC Sen. Tim Scott.

They are a form of tax incentive in which taxpayers may reinvest unrealized capital gains into qualified opportunity funds with taxes deferred. These funds can be used to invest in low-income opportunity zones for things like developing workforce, constructing affordable housing, building new infrastructure, investing in startup businesses or upgrading underused assets already in the opportunity zone. The capital gains deferral can last until 2026 at the latest, and capital gains taxes can be either reduced or exempted depending on how long the investor remains invested.

As part of the legislation, governors in each state designated census tracts as opportunity zones. In South Carolina, there are 135 such zones spread around the state and in each county, making up a quarter of all eligible census tracts.

Several South Carolina municipalities have built pages on their websites with detailed information about their opportunity zones. Both Columbia and West Columbia have posted details about their zones including economic data, key economic strengths of the region, as well as highlights of particular properties and suggestions on potential uses for them. The Grand Strand has a regional opportunity zone website created from a partnership among Horry County, the cities of Myrtle Beach and Conway, the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Learn more about opportunity zones and find a map illustrating the location of all the tracts in South Carolina at www.scopportunityzone.com.