Governor Mark Dayton qualified one area of Willmar, out of the 128 census tracts throughout the state, to be qualified as an Opportunity Zone. An Opportunity Zone designation provides potential investors with tax breaks while funding development or redevelopment of the neighborhood.
The Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission contracted with Golden Shovel Agency to attract investors. The ultimate goal is to develop or redevelop areas within the designated tract through a combination of commercial, residential or mixed-use projects. Investment in these areas would benefit those living and working in the area through job creation and increased economic activity.
The Opportunity Zone in Willmar includes most of downtown, portions of the First Street and U.S. Highway 12 corridors and swaths of residential areas encompassing a combination of commercial and residential areas.
The Opportunity Zone tract offers investors a place to invest their capital gains and receive tax breaks on those investments. Most Opportunity Zones are neighborhoods with low incomes and low property values. The zone in Willmar is one of the most population-dense areas of the city, has a modest median income and opportunity for growth.
For any development project to take place, Willmar’s zone needs to attract the attention of investors. The EDC has entered into a contract with Golden Shovel Agency, an economic development marketing firm with Opportunity Zone experience. Both the EDC Joint Operations Board and the Joint Powers Board approved the contract. The total cost was $18,500, with Willmar Main Street providing $5,000 and the EDC picking up the remaining $13,500.
Golden Shovel has been assisting the EDC in creating a marketing strategy for the Opportunity Zone, is promoting awareness of the zone and is targeting key industry players. The City of Willmar and Kandiyohi County Opportunity Zone prospectus should be ready for distribution in the first part of 2020.
Image by Jared Eischen Cinematography.