Rossville has a “super chance to make a difference” to redevelop declining areas, according to a Chattanooga accountant.
Ken White, a certified public accountant with Henderson, Hutcherson & McCullough, on Oct. 8, explained the federal Opportunity Zone program to community leaders and local realtors. Rossville has the county’s only designated zone.
The program is “great for the investor, and it’s great for the community,” White said.
Elizabeth Wells, Rossville’s economic development consultant, said this program can be layered with some other city developments she expects to announce soon.
The program incentivizes private investment in low-income and economically disadvantaged areas. Taxpayers receive federal tax benefits for investing capital gains in these designated zones, which are identified by state governors and approved by the federal government.
Wells explained that Rossville holds the only Opportunity Zone designation in a five-county radius, the 10-year designation expires in 2028, and under current policy no new federal zones are expected to be designated until 2028.
The program is “an advantageous incentive ... but it won’t make a bad deal good,” Wells said.
She explained that the program is among a package of incentives that Rossville is using to attract investment in the city, including working with the Appalachian Regional Commission on a local investment toolkit to show investors opportunities for investment, as well as available local and state incentives.
The city is building leads on businesses that may be interested in relocating to Rossville.
Rossville is also looking at ways to leverage program funds and grants to implement priority projects in infrastructure, streetscape, transportation planning, housing, building rehabilitations and capital investment to enhance quality of life.
McFarland Avenue and South Mission Ridge Drive are in the Opportunity Zone.
White cited the Western Electric office building, at 410 Chickamauga Ave., as a building that could be redeveloped as offices, condominiums or apartments utilizing the program. The building has nearly 62,000 square feet.
White explained the program at an information session of the Walker County Development Authority. Due to the lack of a quorum, the other business on the agenda for the authority’s meeting was deferred.
Wells said the county owns several parcels in the zone, and the information session was an opportunity for the city and county to promote these properties to investors.