COLUMBIA COUNTY-In April of 2018, Governor Jay Inslee approved 139 census tracts in 36 counties for Opportunity Zone status.
One of those designations included the majority of Columbia County and allows the county to offer special federal tax breaks to encourage development and job creation.
Columbia County Planning Director Meagan Bailey sees the program as a big win for the county.
“While some may consider this designation insulting and say that it paints Columbia County in a negative light, especially considering the progress the county has made in recent years, I think it is a good thing. The Opportunity Zone designation may prove to be a much-needed economic boost the county needs,” she added.
To qualify for Opportunity Zone status, a tract must have an individual poverty rate of at least 20 percent and median family income up to 80 percent of the area median.
Bailey said the designation allows Columbia County to offer multiple financial and intrinsic selling points to developers looking at the county.
“New industry is driving an increased need for residential units and we need someone to invest in new housing for the community. Existing and new incentives offer financial gain to investors who contribute to private investments in the county, with straightforward, bottom-line financial advantage. The county offers a comfortable and beautiful living opportunity where local business is still supported, the great outdoors abounds, and farmers are still local. And permitting is relatively easy, with our approachable and active planning department,” she said.