'Opportunity zones' approved in southwestern Pennsylvania

Stacey Federoff
Pittsburgh Business Times

Qualified opportunity zones have been designated across Pennsylvania as a part of a federal program that defers or eliminates federal taxes on capital gains in certain low-income areas.

The zones are meant as a tool for promoting long-term investment in low-income communities, according to the state Department of Community and Economic Development's website.

Eighty-six tracts were granted the designation in southwestern Pennsylvania, with 68 in Allegheny County, four in Beaver County, two in Fayette County, one in Greene County, one in Butler County, three in Indiana County, one in Somerset County, two in Washington County and four in Westmoreland County.

Of the 1,200 census tracts eligible across the state, Gov. Tom Wolf designated 300 based on economic data, recommendations from local partners and the likelihood of private-sector investment, according to the DCED's website.

The zones must have poverty rates of at least 20 percent or median family incomes of no more than 80 percent of statewide or metropolitan area family income, according to the website.

“The treasury’s approval will give these distressed communities a chance to attract long-term investments in businesses, real estate and other ventures,” said State Rep. Ed Gainey in a prepared statement. “The investments will breathe new life into these neighborhoods and open new doors for residents.”

Gainey had 12 zones approved in his district, six in Pittsburgh and six in Wilkinsburg.