'Opportunity Zones’ aim to uplift low income areas in Lake Charles

'Opportunity Zones’ aim to uplift low income areas in Lake Charles

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Driving into Lake Charles on I-10, the immediate area surrounding the interstate has been less than inviting.

Real-estate developer, Bob Holland, recently started plans to bring a food hall to north Lake Charles. The property is part of the federal government’s “Opportunity Zone” tax incentive program. It aims to drive investment into low-income areas.

To see which land qualifies as an opportunity zone, click here.

“We were looking for an opportunity zone,” Holland said. “We had no idea when we began that we would find a building that’s so well-suited for a food hall located in an opportunity zone. These buildings and historic locations in our city are certainly worthwhile to remodel, redo; to save.”

Mayor Nic Hunter says this program is a long-term solution to the problem.

“If they hold that incentive for five to seven years, they can realize a significant tax benefit,” Hunter said. “If they hold that incentive for 10 years, they can eliminate 100 percent of the capital gains tax that they had realized on the original investment.”

Michael Smith is a business owner in North Lake Charles and said this investment in his community is encouraging.

“Well, hopefully that’s like making the dollar grow,” Smith said. “We recycle the dollar throughout the whole community; spending more—more businesses mean more people coming into the area, more development, more houses; and the dollar keeps on turning and turning.”

“I think it begins today. From this point forward, people will begin investing along I-10 in the opportunity zone,” Holland said.

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