FROSTBURG, Md. (WDVM) — In January, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order, establishing the Maryland Opportunity Zone Leadership Task Force, a committee with the intent of gathering information across the state to better utilize the federal opportunity zone incentive.
“There are 149 opportunity zones in the state of Maryland,” said Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, “so if you create a business or expand a business in any of those locations or invest in those locations, you can get the benefit of, over a 10-year period, not having to pay federal or capital gains taxes.”
Rutherford is the chairman of the task force, and he and the committee met in Frostburg, Maryland on July 10 to learn from local officials as to what they see as detrimental to business development in western Maryland.
“And we want to make sure that it’s really a bottom-up approach — that we hear from the locals, hear from the folks that are local stakeholders in terms of what is important to them and what unique about what’s going on in their communities,” said Rutherford.
County commissioners, delegates and senators of western Maryland were in attendance of the meeting, and each echoed similar sentiments, saying that the issues rural Maryland faces are different than more developed areas such as Baltimore and Montgomery Counties and that there is a need for better infrastructure and affordable housing.
“But in particular in places like western Maryland — that really needs some additional incentives and additional focus,” said Delegate Jason Buckel (R-District 1B), “so our economy can grow into the type of 21st Century economy that many people in the Baltimore, Washington corridor experience and enjoy.”
According to Rutherford, the task force has until the end of the year to put together a report on their findings, which will be used as a reference in lawmaking.
“Because the bottom line is creating jobs in these communities,” said Rutherford, “that is what we’re really setting out to do.”