Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Mark Dykes

Town nominated as opportunity zone


During a recent meeting of the Thermopolis Town Council, Travel and Tourism Director Amanda Moeller said she did some paperwork for the State of Wyoming a couple months ago regarding opportunity zones, noting the town of Thermopolis was recommended by the governor to be such a zone.

However, it is still 30 days before the secretary of the treasury will accept the town as an opportunity zone.

Moeller summarized being accepted as an opportunity zone acts something like a new market tax credit program. “If there’s a large company somewhere else that has capital gains when they sell their asset, instead of paying the capital gains [taxes] they can invest that money into an opportunity zone. Our community would be one of those zones.” What this means is Thermopolis could be seeing much more investment.

Investments are done through qualified opportunity funds, which is any investment vehicle that holds at least 90 percent of its assets in opportunity zone investments, including property within a zone, or stock or equity in a trade or business that owned or leased property in a zone.

In order to be eligible, a zone must have census tracts that show a poverty rate greater than 20 percent or median family income that is less than 80 percent of the statewide median family income.

Another qualifier is that census tracts must be adjacent to a qualified low-income community designated as a qualified opportunity zone, and median family income of the tract must not exceed 125 percent of the median family income of the low-income community with which the tract is contiguous.

There are 33 low-income census tracts in Wyoming, Moeller said, and there are 23 qualified contiguous tracts “which to me says there’s 23 counties, so we were selected as one of them.”

The county, Moeller explained, is its own zone and the town is its own zone. She filled out paperwork for both to be opportunity zones, but only the area west of the Big Horn River was nominated.

Being an opportunity zone would be a help to us, Moeller said, if we can start drawing investors — even to where multiple investors pool their resources to minimize their risk.


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