Gov. Asa Hutchinson talked about opportunity zones and more as the guest speaker at the Conway Kiwanis Club on Wednesday.
The federal tax cut bill of 2017 allows each state’s governor to designate 25 percent of low-income, low-economic areas – based on census tracks – as opportunity zones.
The census tracked more than 300 qualifying areas in Arkansas, meaning Hutchinson could designate 85 opportunity zones.
In an opportunity zone, an investor can put in capital gains income and defer the tax.
“If you keep it there for 10 years, it wipes it out,” Hutchinson said. “They’re highly competitive. Investors call up and say ‘I’d love for an opportunity zone to be in this area’ and communities also say ‘This is where we want to grow.’”
The governor designated three opportunity zones in Conway – a large tract of land between Highways 65 and 64, a smaller tract northeast of the University of Central Arkansas and west of Interstate 40 and a large tract east of UCA.
“Three is a lot for one community but I see the growth here,” he said.
Hutchinson said the smaller tract west of I-40 would likely include retail, office and residential development.
The large tract east of UCA “should assist with old airport redevelopment efforts that are already underway,” he said.
After announcing he would be attending Toad Suck Daze on Friday, the Kiwanis Club presented Hutchinson with a festival T-shirt.
Also Wednesday, the governor applauded Kiwanian Dr. Terry Fiddler for the success of the Arkansas Mission of Mercy (ArMOM) last weekend at the Conway Expo Center.
More than 2,000 people were treated with more than $1.2 million in free dentistry at the event. Hutchinson visited with waiting patients during his appearance at the event on Saturday.
Fiddler, local dentist and ArMOM executive director, said people from six states came to have their teeth worked on, including a woman who paid $51 for a bus ride from Wisconsin and received $3,500 worth of dental work.
Hutchinson and his wife were honorary chairs for the first ArMOM event.