When the analysis was completed, three census tracts largely encompassing the older areas of Mansfield were included in the recommendations made by Ohio Governor John Kasich to the US Treasury Department to be recognized as “Opportunity Zones.”

Opportunity Zones are a community development program created by Congress in the large tax bill of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide. The Opportunity Zones program provides a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into Opportunity Funds that are dedicated to investing into these Opportunity Zones. Each state made recommendations, and the Treasury Department has the final call on Zone creation.

The boundaries of the recommended tracts are outline in the map below.

Ohio recommended 320 census tracts (25% of 1,280 eligible tracts), its full allocation. The three Mansfield tracts were the sole Richland County recommendations.

Based on the timeline outlined in legislation, the Ohio Development Services Agency reached out to local units of governments from municipalities to county commissioners, local development professionals, development organizations, port authorities, and more.   The Agency received over 100 calls and 238 online submissions, as well as letters of support, many including multiple census tracts.

Census tracts are located within county boundaries and determined by population.  The Agency started by calculating 25% of each county’s eligible census tracts.  Then, submissions were reviewed by county. If the number of submitted tracts in a county was less than 25% of the county’s eligible tracts, eligibility was confirmed, and the tracts were marked “Yes” in preliminary evaluation.

For most counties, the number of submitted tracts exceeded 25% of eligible tracts. In preliminary evaluation “Yes” was assigned to 25% of the tracts in the county, with the remaining tracts assigned “Maybe”, based on the following criteria.

Local/Regional Cooperation –In most circumstances, a group submission would duplicate a tract submitted by a single governmental entity, nonprofit organization, development or economic council, etc.  Priority was given to tracts where local cooperation was demonstrated.

Local/Regional Prioritization – under the theory that local or regional submitters know more about a tract within their county, the submitters’ identified priorities were considered.

Single Tract/Multiple Submissions – a single tract submitted by multiple submitters, was given priority over a single tract submitted by a single submitter.

Tract Descriptions – Job creation potential, history of public/private investment within the tract, future commitments of public/private investment, available land for development, existing businesses/employers within the region, and sector specific lines (i.e., medical, airport, deep water ports, housing, recreational waterfront, etc.), as identified by submitters, were prioritized.

Next, Development further reviewed the “Maybe” tracts for strong and persuasive input and to assure counties, regions, Appalachia, and large population metropolitan areas received as close to 25% of their eligible tracts selected as possible.

All 73 counties, in which eligible tracts were submitted, have tracts proposed to be recommended to the U.S. Treasury for designation.

Source: Ohio Development Services Agency

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