FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 1, 2018
Contact: The Honorable Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt firstname.lastname@example.org: 401 767-9205
CITY EARNS THREE U.S. TREASURY QUALIFIED OPPORTUNITY ZONE DESIGNATIONS
WOONSOCKET, RI: Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt announced today the U.S. Department of Treasury has officially approved three Woonsocket census tracts each as a designated Qualified Opportunity Zone from among a group of 25 tracts located within 15 Ocean State municipalities that Governor Raimondo nominated for its review consideration last month.
“The U.S. Treasury’s granting of these three very significant designations is beyond symbolic. We should all feel extremely proud because this federal nod strategically positions and underscores Woonsocket as a “sky’s the limit” destination where commerce and investors can partner and prosper,” said Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt. “The U.S. Treasury’s designation of these Qualified Opportunity Zones immediately illuminates the City of Woonsocket’s “Open for Business” sign to a widespread audience. Its endorsement acknowledges the vast scope and viable potential of Woonsocket’s business landscape.”
Mayor Baldelli-Hunt received the exciting news of the award from the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation in Providence which serves as the state’s chief economic development agency responsible for overseeing the Qualified Opportunity Zone program in the Ocean State. Woonsocket is among 18 select Rhode Island municipalities the agency invited to compete for the 25 available Qualified Opportunity Zone designations. In its application, the City Planning and Development Department nominated Census Tracts that it deemed as offering economic development potential. Each tract contains multiple parcels of either solely vacant land, dormant industrial buildings or a mix of both covering expansive land masses located throughout various parts of the City including downtown, within or around Highland Corporate Park and along the Blackstone River and in and around Hamlet Avenue.
“I am overwhelmingly proud and pleased that the City has received three of the Qualified Opportunity Zone designations allocated to the state,” said Mayor Baldelli-Hunt. “Undoubtedly, the U.S. Treasury recognition of Woonsocket’s potential is due in part to the detailed application that the City’s Department of Planning and Development had prepared and submitted to Rhode Island Commerce Corporation in early March.”
Valid for ten years, the highly desirous Qualified Opportunity Zone classification is anticipated to catapult Woonsocket’s visibility among both potential investors and the business community. The U.S. Treasury is offering the program under the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Woonsocket received the Qualified Opportunity Zone designation for Census Tract Nos. 179, 180 and 185 which contain the following parcels: • Census tract 185 includes several vacant pieces of land located within or in close proximity to the City’s Highland Corporate Park at the terminus of Route 99. • Census tract 179 is located on the southerly side of the Blackstone River. A portion of it sits in the City’s Overlay District. Project sites that may be developed due to the Qualified Opportunity Zone designation include the Bernon Mills complex and the vacant former French Worsted Mill on the southerly side of Hamlet Avenue. • Census tract 180 includes sites located in the City’s Main Street area of which most are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tract comprises much of the City’s Downtown Woonsocket Overlay District. Major potential projects include the vacant six-story former Rhode Island Hospital Trust building located at 162 Main Street as well as other vacant buildings throughout Main Street.
Woonsocket State Representative Michael Morin (D-49) co-sponsored legislation in February whose passage enabled enactment of the federal legislation. The Resolution affirmed the Rhode Island House of Representative’s support of the Federal Act and requested Gov. Gina Raimondo and Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor to officially designate Woonsocket and four other Blackstone River Corridor municipalities as a Qualified Opportunity Zone.
The Federal Qualified Opportunity Zone program aims to stimulate widespread economic revitalization and spur economic growth throughout municipalities nationwide through attracting businesses to move into a Qualified Opportunity Zone and offering tax incentives to private investors who invest in Qualified Opportunity Zone real estate or business.