Berryville designated ‘opportunity zone’

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Berryville is becoming a land of opportunity.

The greater Berryville area is one of a group of 85 Arkansas Opportunity Zones that have been given the designation by the United States Treasury Department as a way to provide a strong economic boost in areas that need it.

According to a media release from Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office, the Treasury’s approval means that “some of our communities that are struggling economically will have the chance to enjoy the new opportunities that come with fresh thinking and new investment.” Hutchinson said the announcement will provide an opportunity in those areas.

An announcement on Berryville.com says the program, which is part of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, allows investors to defer payment of taxes on capital gains on profits that are earned in the zone area. They must invest the money through a corporation or partnership that was organized for the specific purpose of investing in opportunity zones, the announcement says. The investor’s fund must hold at least 90 percent of its assets in qualifying property, the announcement says. According to the announcement, the eligible zones are based on U.S. Census tracts, and governors of each state were allowed to nominate up to 25 percent of eligible tracts.

Arkansas has 337 qualified tracts, and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) officials said the nominations were based on the potential to attract investment and the likelihood of economic success. AEDC will work closely with communities to find the right investment opportunities, said AEDC executive director Mike Preston.

“The opportunity zone on the Berryville area will provide a good chance for additional development here, especially at a time that we are emphasizing workforce development in Carroll County,” said Berryville economic development director Chris Claybaker.

Claybaker continued, “The opportunity zone in Carroll County includes all of the city of Berryville, our newest industrial area and most of our existing industries. It covers an area of the county where we know there is investment potential.”

He said historic Berryville is perhaps Northwest Arkansas’ best-kept secret. It serves as the retail hub of Carroll County, he said, where that “hometown feeling” is alive and well. Berryville’s quaint downtown square, fascinating museums and distinctive shops give little clues to the world-class caliber workforce producing world-recognized precision-manufactured custom firearms, Claybaker said.

According to Claybaker, there is a reason Tyson Foods has located its largest operations in Carroll County. The top-caliber workforce is backed by the community’s reputation as a place to grow your family or business, he said.

Steve Johnson, executive director of the Greater Berryville Area Chamber of Commerce, released an announcement July 18 about the opportunity zone designation, saying this is an exciting time for Berryville.

“Berryville is now positioned to be one of the major sites in Arkansas where new businesses will decide to locate new facilities or put us at the top of their list of potential sites,” Johnson said, “when they need to expand their Arkansas operations. I believe Berryville is poised for economic development and business growth unlike any time in our city’s history.”

Johnson continued, “And when you take into consideration the Berryville 2020 development plan city leaders have laid out, this growth won’t destroy our way of life, nor will it disrupt what we cherish most about Berryville. Opportunity is coming. Get ready for it.”

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