Gov. Bevin touts Kentucky Opportunity Zones

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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin visited Hazard Thursday to tout newly announced Opportunity Zones.

"What this means is opportunity. I mean hence the name opportunity zone, but It is very specific tax incentives for investors. It encourages people to take monies that they might have invested in other places and get incredible tax incentives for investing them into communities that have specific economic need," said, Gov. Bevin.

On April 9, the U.S. Department of the Treasury certified 84 Kentucky counties under the program in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

The Opportunity Zone Initiative gives both rural and urban areas the chance to strengthen and rebuild their economies, which will hopefully spur investment growth and community development.

There's great investment incentives, and they encourage people not just to make quick hits but to invest for five, seven, to ten years," said the governor.

Speaking in People's Park on Main Street, Gov. Bevin discussed how the program offers federal tax breaks for companies and entrepreneurs investing in the zones. The program is overseen by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

"Kentucky will maximize this golden chance to attract economic development projects to communities most in need across the commonwealth, and the Kentucky Opportunity Zone Initiative will strengthen and rebuild both rural and urban areas," said Gov. Bevin in an earlier news release.

Flanked by local and state leaders, Bevin spotlighted the work of One East Kentucky and its President/CEO Chuck Sexton. Gov. Bevin along with Sexton and others have traveled the world searching for economic opportunities.

"Let's say we're competing with a much more urban or metropolitan community and were close to getting that deal with a company this might help us seal the deal," said Sexton.

During the event, Governor Bevin explained how Kentucky leaders jumped on the opportunity to be included in the program. Because of that vision, Kentucky was one of the first 18 states to have its zones certified. The governor also hinted at a project in the works for Eastern Kentucky but did not give specific details.

"Well I'll tell you there's one I've been working on with Representative Fugate that we're hoping will come to fruition, whether or not this were to happen I think it's a possibility, but I think it is more likely to happen because of these opportunity zones," the governor added.

144 areas in Kentucky has been designated Opportunity Zones. Click here to see a map showing the different Zones.

Jackson, Powell, Carter, Johnson, Wolfe, Knott, Owsley, Knox, Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Leslie and McCreary Counties all have one designated opportunity zone.

Pulaski, Boyd, Martin, Whitley, Clay and Estill Counties all have two.

Magoffin and Perry Counties each have three.

Breathitt County has four opportunity zones and Pike County has the most in Eastern Kentucky with seven.

Laurel and Rockcastle Counties do not have any designated promise zones.

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