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Berrien County program aimed at boosting investment

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BENTON HARBOR, Mich – Berrien County could see a boost in investment in what are being called opportunity zones.

 “It encourages investment in low income areas and there are three census tracts in the Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, Benton Charter Township area that is designated opportunity zones,” Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland said.

The Opportunity zones are possible through the “U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” which Cornerstone spoke with Michigan state officials to create areas with great potential to be designated opportunity zones.

As a part of the program a business can invest in an opportunity fund which could be used for something like purchasing real estate on the opportunity zones and after someone has maintained the zone for seven to ten years there will be tax benefits for investing in low income areas that need it.

Benton Harbor resident and business owner Terry Stokes says people in the opportunity zones will be positively affected.

“It’ll benefit some people directly and others indirectly and when I say indirectly it’ll create a tax base that the city needs very badly in order to provide services to the people of this community,” Stokes said.

Program backers say that opportunities on the investment side will also be diverse in size and availability.

“What the opportunity zone program does is it allows individual investors or even investors of a smaller scale that has a qualifying tax event to engage in the development process,” Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland said.

Cornerstone Alliance says projects are already in the works because of this program.

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