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BRBC BLOG:Bridgeport and Stratford Opportunity Zones

   

June 20, 2019 - Bridgeport

Bridgeport-Stratford Opportunity Zone Information Forum 

For the second year in a row the Bridgeport Regional Business Council (BRBC), in collaboration with several local partners, held a Bridgeport-Stratford Opportunity Zone Information Forum at the Bijou Theatre in downtown Bridgeport. The forum occurred on June 20th and its purpose was to provide clarity on Opportunity Zone guidance recently issued by the US Department of the Treasury.   The forum was free of charge with a networking reception at the end of the formal program and attracted 85 attendees.  Attendees came from throughout Fairfield and New Haven Counties, and a wide variety of industry sectors, including banking, real estate, construction, equity finance, and legal.  

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act established the federal “Opportunity Zones” (OZ) program, intended to provide favorable capital gains treatment for investors who support eligible projects in designated census tracts.   72 US Census Tracts in 20 Connecticut municipalities were designated by the US Treasury in 2018; 7 in Bridgeport and 1 in Stratford.  After months of public comment on draft regulations issued last October, the US Treasury issued long and eagerly-awaited guidance this April.  Of particular interest for most attendees was the clarification in the Treasury’s guidance on the essential timing of tax advantaged investments, and greater definition of project eligibility.  

Four presenters offered their perspectives on the consequences of the new guidance, then participated in a moderated panel discussion and Q&A with the audience:

John Stafstrom, Public Finance Chair, Pullman & Comley, LLC - What Municipalities, Investors and Developers Need to Know to Foster Collaboration, Investment and Development


David Kooris, Deputy Commissioner, CT Department of Economic & Community Development - State of Connecticut’s perspective on leveraging quality Opportunity Zone investment at the local level


Bert Hunter, Executive Vice President & Chief Investment Officer, Connecticut Green Bank - What the new Opportunity Zone guidance means for green/renewable energy projects


Al Puchala, Chief Executive Officer, CapZone Impact Investments- Connecting profits to purpose, special opportunities around higher education institutions

 

At the beginning of the program Mayor Joseph Ganim welcomed attendees and emphasized his administration’s on-going commitment to a strong public-private partnership with the BRBC. 

Kuchma Corporation, Bridgeport Landing Development, and Pullman & Comley sponsored the event.  

BRBC’s collaborating partners for the event were the City of Bridgeport’s Office of Planning and Economic Development, the Town of Stratford’s Economic Development Office, and the Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation (BEDCO).