SCRANTON, April 20, 2018 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced that areas of Scranton, Blakely and Jessup were designated as Federal Opportunity Zones by Governor Tom Wolf.

Eight census tracts in Lackawanna County – six in the City of Scranton and one each in Blakely and Jessup – were included in the 300 Opportunity Zones submitted by Governor Tom Wolf to the US Treasury earlier today.

“The areas of Lackawanna County designated as Opportunity Zones by the Governor present prime areas for development that will enable us to build upon the platform of business attraction, sustainability and growth of our anchor higher education and healthcare institutions,” Blake said. “These Opportunity Zones designations will allow our region to utilize a new economic development tool that is flexible enough to finance a broad spectrum of projects in diverse settings — small towns and urban centers alike.”

The Federal Opportunity Zones program encourages long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities by offering federal tax incentives for those who reinvest unrealized capital gains into “Opportunity Funds,” or specialized vehicles dedicated to investing in low-income areas.

“The designation of the Opportunity Zones – and the investment capital that can come with that, offer an important opportunity for enhanced economic development in Lackawanna County,” Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce president Bob Durkin added. “We are grateful to the Governor for selecting these sites, and thank Senator Blake for shepherding this request through the process.”

Blake noted that, while there were 8 designations made in Lackawanna County, he had advocated for additional designations of census tracts in Archbald and in downtown Carbondale.

“The local Opportunity Zones encompass the heart of our largest downtown business district, important commercial and industrial sites in South Scranton and key sites for continued development and job growth in business parks in Jessup and Blakely,” Blake added. “I am encouraged by today’s announcement and will continue to work to bring jobs and private investment to our region.”

The Treasury Department is expected to respond to state submissions within 30 days.

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