Leaders hope new 'opportunity zones' will elevate SC economy

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AIKEN, SC (Gray DC) -- Stock and real estate investors looking to avoid taxes could have new reason to put their money to work in the Palmetto state. Our Washington Bureau Reporter Alana Austin breaks down the dollars and cents.

So here’s the deal: typically when some one sells stock or property for a profit -- known as capital gains -- they pay a tax. But last year’s tax reform plan means you can cut part, or all, of that bill if the investors start a business or put money into any of the 8,700 struggling communities across the country -- including North Augusta and Aiken.

From the outside, Aiken doesn’t look like a distressed community. But leaders say despite all the traffic that passes through -- business could be better.

“People see Aiken growing and they want to be a part of it," said Aiken, SC Mayor, Rick Osborn.

Listed as the South’s best small town by Southern Living Magazine - the city’s mayor says the economy here is on the upswing. But, he’s hopeful the new tax break will kick that trend into high gear.

“It’s a really strong way to recruit investment," said Osborn.

The federal government lists the area as an 'opportunity zone'. In theory that should mean savvy investors can create new business here -- or other areas like Flint, Michigan -- rather than pay capital gains.

Sen. Tim Scott (R) pushed strongly to get the incentive included in 2017’s tax overhaul.

“I was a kid who lived in these distressed communities. I believe that there’s untapped potential in each and every one of these communities," said Scott.

Dustin Ennis started this gym without the new benefit. But, the young businessman says he’s optimistic this will bring others to town, helping everyone.

“Aiken is known as the retirement town - let’s just make it a destination to come to and not just a retirement town so people of all ages can enjoy the beauty that we’ve found in Aiken, too," said Ennis.

The federal government hasn’t fully-formed all the rules for the new tax break. Mayor Osborn tells me he’ll be keeping a close eye on those regulations as they become clearer, learning all the ins and outs, so his city can fully take advantage.

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