Launches Maryland Opportunity Zone Task Force and Website, Will Introduce Legislation and Expand Workforce Development
Governor Larry Hogan today announced a series of initiatives and legislation to further expand the thriving Maryland Opportunity Zone program. A total of $56.5 million will be dedicated to attracting new businesses and development and continuing to invest in Maryland’s workforce. The governor made the announcement at Walbrook Mill – a 41,000 square-foot active construction site located in a designated Opportunity Zone in Baltimore City, and future home of 140 apartments and townhomes, retail and commercial space, warehouse, and light industrial usage on North Avenue. Governor Hogan was joined by Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford, Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh, Department of Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, Department of Housing Secretary Kenneth C. Holt, Acting Department of Labor Secretary James Rzepkowski, as well as numerous other state and local leaders and community members.
“Today’s important Opportunity Zone announcements strengthen our focus on and steadfast commitment to renewing hope and opportunity in every corner of our state,” said Governor Hogan. “These initiatives will foster an environment of economic opportunity to create thousands of new Maryland jobs and to transform and revitalize the cities, towns, and local communities that need our help the most.”
In addition, the governor signed Executive Order 01.01.2019.01, which creates the Maryland Opportunity Zone Leadership Task Force. The task force, chaired by Lt. Governor Rutherford, will host regional summits throughout the state for local stakeholders to share information and discuss possibilities for Opportunity Zones. The task force will develop a State Opportunity Plan to align Opportunity Zone goals with state economic and cultural priorities, which will include partnering with local governments to effectively leverage local assets to fast-track investment and development.
“I would like to thank Governor Hogan for the opportunity – no pun intended – to lead the Maryland Opportunity Zone Leadership Task Force,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “The governor’s leadership and vision has made the revitalization of our most vulnerable communities a top priority for the state. This is an exciting endeavor, one which I believe will truly make a difference in those communities that need our assistance the most.”
Governor Hogan also announced that the administration will introduce the More Opportunities for Marylanders Act of 2019 to extend a 10-year tax credit for each new job created by a company that locates or expands in a Maryland Opportunity Zone. These companies will also be eligible for an additional $6 million in tax credits, have 100 percent of their state property taxes exempted, and have all business recording, filing, or special fees waived.
Maryland’s nationally recognized EARN workforce development grant program will now focus directly on the state’s 149 Opportunity Zones with a new investment of $3 million to establish “Opportunity Works” – a job training program specifically for businesses that are located in Opportunity Zones. Through Opportunity Works, the Maryland Department of Labor will issue competitive grants for qualified businesses to provide workforce training programs that result in a credential or identifiable skill, or job readiness and skill training.
“Among our highest priorities is attracting new investment in neighborhoods and areas of our cities that have been long-neglected but represent enormous potential for the future of our City and their residents,” said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “The designation of our 42 census tracts across our City as Opportunity Zones is a critical part of our strategy to move Baltimore forward by lifting the prospects of these communities and creating real and sustainable opportunity for both citizens and entrepreneurs.”
The Hogan administration will also introduce legislation and invest $16 million to create the Maryland Technology Infrastructure Fund. This transformative new fund will be housed and staffed through Maryland’s innovation arm – Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), an independent governing board tasked with creating a long-term strategic vision and implementation plan to leverage more than $500 million in planned investment over the next decade.
The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development will make several funding sources available to support projects in Opportunity Zones, including $20 million for Rental Housing Works for the construction and renovation of affordable housing, $8 million for small business lending through the Neighborhood BusinessWorks program, and $3.5 million for the statewide Strategic Demolition Fund to support site acquisition and demolition of derelict buildings and redevelopment to spur economic and community revitalization.
Finally, Governor Hogan announced the launch of the Maryland Opportunity Zone Information Exchange, an online resource designed to attract capital to projects and businesses. Developed by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, this is the first comprehensive, interactive resource of its kind in the nation. The Exchange will serve as a virtual meeting place for investors, fund managers, property developers, new or expanding businesses, and local stakeholders. Open to the public, anyone can search and find the latest on Maryland’s Opportunity Zones through the Information Exchange.
“All of these efforts are ushering in a new era of revitalization and economic growth in Maryland as we are engaging with and listening to community leaders and key stakeholders in order to respond to the unique needs of communities from one corner of our state to the other,” said Governor Hogan. “We are working with all levels of government – our federal, state, county, and municipal partners – to find even more ways to transform communities, encourage investment, and spur revitalization and redevelopment.”
For more information about Opportunity Zones and to visit the Maryland Opportunity Zone Information Exchange, visit http://dhcd.maryland.gov/OpportunityZones.