In an effort to spur investments in Delta County, the county and numerous economic development partners are seeking funding for engaging Opportunity Zones (OZ) investments through a community prospectus — a set of marketing materials, strategies and cohesive messaging that highlights what makes a community unique for investment.

In a letter addressed to the mayor and city council, City Manager David Torgler outlined that the projected total cost for this project is estimated at $50,000. Two partner grant applications are being processed.

One grant through the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) looks at how to use the OZ investment in a private/public partnership model to attract investments in public infrastructure. The second is through the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) for the traditional community prospectus.

Both agencies indicated they will allow partnering for a single project, which reduces the amount of match funding required.

With a request to DOLA for $25,000 and OEDIT for $10,00 — $15,000 would be left to come from Delta County, municipalities and private investors.

In the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs acts, Congress developed a tool called the OZ incentive to encourage investments in low-income communities. The incentive is deferral, reduction and potential elimination of certain federal capital gains taxes.

Delta County has three census tracts designated as opportunity zones — two in/around Delta and one in/around Paonia. Over the last several months, a group of businesses, economic development partners, Town Paonia, Delta County and the City of Delta have been meeting to discuss how to spur investment in the county through these designations.

“We really need to establish an identity, stand behind it and push it,” said Mayor Pro-tem Chris Ryan, in support of the city’s inclusion with the grants to fund this OZ project. The goal is to change the perception of Delta as being an unfriendly place to develop new business.

With funding from OEDIT and DOLA, consultants would be hired to develop both the partnership model and prospectus. The prospectus would provide developers and investors with the necessary information to see if its valuable for them to invest in the community. The partnership model would create an agreement for how public/private partnerships could be utilized to attract local OZ investment in infrastructure and public projects.

Elyse Casselberry, county community and economic development director, said projects in Paonia and Delta that are potential opportunities on investment projects will be highlighted in the prospectus, but all six municipalities in the county will be emphasized, “which is what makes us unique as a county and what will help us stand out in the crowd.”

The City of Delta approved participation in the grant application with an investment of up to $5,000. The Delta County Commissioners approved a commitment up to $7,000, which would come from economic development funds.

Paonia committed to $1,000 in the project. Casselberry believes private commitments will provide the other $2,000.

DCED is submitting the OEDIT grant, with the county submitting the DOLA grant.

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