County names 16 low-income areas for potential new investment, suggests governor consider 10 more

(Scott Sommerdorf | Tribune file photo) Justin Johnson, left and Ryan Worwood put the finishing touches on their panels as local artists with Justified Ink worked together with Glendale Middle School students to install a mural on a length of fence next to the Jordan Parkway Trail, June 2, 2017.

With input from local governments, Salt Lake County has sent to Gov. Gary Herbert a list of 16 poor and underdeveloped areas that could benefit from a new federal tax incentive to spur investment and suggested that the governor look at 10 more.

The areas, designated low-income communities based on census data, would qualify as “Opportunity Zones” under a program included in last year’s federal tax cuts. It would let big institutional investors such as banks defer capital gains and earn tax-free interest by putting their money into housing and business development efforts within the zones.

Overall, Utah had 181 census-designated areas that qualified, 64 of them in Salt Lake County. Governors can choose up to 25 percent of the identified sites in their states to receive the benefit. That’s 46 statewide in Utah and 16 for the county.

Of the 16 areas the county suggested to the governor, six are wholly within Salt Lake City, mostly in the northwest quadrant and city center. Two others span the city’s borders with Magna and West Valley City. The rest cover parts of Kearns, Midvale, Millcreek, South Salt Lake, Taylorsville, more of West Valley City, and West Jordan.

But the county went further. It named 10 more sites the governor might consider if other parts of the state don’t submit their own, hoping that the county’s track record for investment and strategic location might make it more attractive than other more isolated areas. That list includes seven more sites in Salt Lake City in addition to West Valley City, Magna and Kearns.

In his letter to Herbert naming the county’s picks, County Mayor Ben McAdams said the county reviewed recommendations from the eligible municipalities and further considered factors such as poverty rates, education levels, unemployment, proximity to transportation links, growth opportunity, and existing public and private investment.

The county is hosting an open house to gather public comment from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the county government center. The governor has until April 20 to submit nominations to the federal government.

Salt Lake City neighborhoods that could be designated under the program include Poplar Grove, Glendale, Ball Park, Fairpark, Downtown, Central City, Liberty Wells, Northwest Quadrant and Granary.