Silt mayor represented at Opportunity Zones Conference in D.C. last week |

Silt mayor represented at Opportunity Zones Conference in D.C. last week

Keith Richel
Staff Photo |

Silt Mayor Keith Richel and officials from across the country headed to Washington, D.C., last week to discuss a federal program in which the town became one of a handful of Colorado towns to participate last year.

Richel said federal officials reached out to four Colorado towns to join the Opportunity Zones Conference on April 17. Silt and Montrose officials attended.

Richel said he thinks the economic development initiative could have tremendous potential for Silt.

“I think it’s a really good time for investors to look at investing in Silt,” he said.

“This vital provision gives businesses a massive incentive to invest and create jobs in our nation’s most underserved communities.”— President Donald Trump

Opportunity Zones is a federal distinction established by Congress in 2017 to address uneven economic recovery that has left some communities across the country behind, according to the Colorado Office on Economic Development and International Trade.

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President Donald Trump spoke about the Opportunity Zones program at the D.C. conference, as did several other high-ranking government officials, including Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.

“This vital provision gives businesses a massive incentive to invest and create jobs in our nation’s most underserved communities,” Trump said at the conference.

Richel said the conference served as a way for those in attendance to become more educated on Opportunity Zones and what they offer for a community.

He said about 150 people were in attendance, which included mayors, city managers, opportunity fund managers and others.

“It’s great to get all this work done and get recognized,” Silt Town Administrator Jeff Layman said. “It’s just neat that we were invited at all.”

At the conference, local leaders from towns across the country sat down to discuss the economic development initiative and how to best implement it in their individual towns.

Silt, along with the Associated Governments of Northwestern Colorado and the state of Colorado, petitioned to have the town included in the federal government designation after it was established. The entire town, as well as a large area to the south of town, were included as an Opportunity Zone in early 2018.

While Silt became an opportunity zone in 2018, the town is still feeling out how best to take advantage of it, said Layman.

There weren’t any potential investors at the conference, though Richel said he met with several state officials who offered ideas on how to best reach out to investors. Among them was the Colorado Director of Business Funding and Incentives Jeff Kraft.

Silt released a new investment prospectus for the town to open to the new year. Layman and Richel are continuing to circulate the prospectus to potential investors.

Opportunity zones are designed to spur economic development by providing tax benefits to investors, according to the IRS website.

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