New federal program would give business owners incentive to invest

MUSKOGEE, Okla. -- A new federal program being rolled out across the country and Oklahoma right now would give business owners a huge tax break if they invest in low-income areas.

What does this mean for businesses, investors and the local community?

One example is downtown Muskogee — it’s one of several areas selected to be in what’s being called a Federal Opportunity Zone.

The federal government hopes the big tax breaks will incentivize companies to move and invest here.

When Congress passed sweeping tax reforms last winter, included in that package was a country-wide incentive program for businesses.

The challenge with this new program for developers and investors? Put your money in low income and distressed areas and help spur economic development and reinvestment.

"It’s another quiver in the toolbox of the economic development here so when they go to the outside world," said Dan Morris of Advantage Controls. "They have one more thing, more more incentive for people to come to Muskogee.”

Morris knows Muskogee well. He owns Advantage Controls and Advantage TerraFab on the east side of town.

Morris believes a program like this could encourage outside investment into places like Muskogee.

"What we want to do is we want to generate outside money coming into town investing in our businesses as opposed to investing in New York or Texas or wherever," Morris said. "They invest here they’ll get a better return on their investment because the taxes will be lower.”

Much much lower. Federal officials say the program would waive a capital gains tax for up to 10 years.

State lawmakers are excited about the program’s potential.
 
"The areas they chose were very strategic and that I think they saw specific opportunity in these areas and so we hope to see all kinds of investment, anything from tourism to those industrial jobs,” said State Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee.

The hope here is that a program like this could help create more jobs.

Oklahoma is just just a handful of states selected for this federal program.

EXTRA: Where are Oklahoma's Federal Opportunity Zones?

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