October 14, 2019-
The Chamber held our annual Future Focus Program which evolved from WCCCC’s Regional Planning Committee. The committee crafts this event each year to highlight the resources within our region. The event reveals proven solutions for local businesses and explores the resources businesses and local government are utilizing to enhance the region.
The hot topic this year was the Opportunity Zone Program. Chester County has only one Opportunity Zone, which falls inside the City of Coatesville. To learn about opportunity zones please visit HERE. H20 Connected, is the first female-owned business to take advantage of the program. The Future Focus event welcomed Susan Springsteen, President of H20 Connected to speak. The Qualified Opportunity Zone is a big incentive for H20 Connected. The business is coming to Coatesville with renovation plans for a vacant building. Susan shared the company’s vision for the future. Not only are they opening their own enterprise, but also plan to create an environment where small businesses and start-ups will want to locate to; a space that aims to incubate the businesses through a powerful growth process that will generate jobs and a positive buzz for the city of Coatesville.
“It must benefit everyone, the community, the investor and the business. ” said Susan. “The Opportunity Zones program requires the businesses to really become a part of the fabric of the community.”
Susan projects that early stage businesses that may choose to locate in H20 Connected’s facility would jumpstart the wealth creation cycle by bringing in more people and more demand for services and products.
David Ciocchetti, Economic Advisor to the Chester County Commissioners also spoke at the event and gave attendees a perspective of Chester County’s Opportunity Zone. “Location, location, location, Coatesville has a terrific location. Coatesville is at the edge of investment coming from the East and is the gateway to Chester County coming from the West. The area has great geography within Chester County but also is located in the greater Philadelphia Metro region.” David pointed out that the city has amazing architecture in an era when authenticity is a key theme. He explained that many places are trying to replicate the look of places like Coatesville, while Coatesville has maintained this authenticity for 50, 100, 200 years. David continued, “Coatesville has this workforce and economy around us, we sit in the middle of all that -we need to take advantage of that as we go forward.”
David gave attendees an overview of what to expect from Opportunity Zones moving forward. The first significant milestone is December 31, 2019. The good news is that if investors do not make that milestone and acquire property before then, their is still plenty of time to engage and take advantage of the Opportunity Zone through other facets. David explained the program’s three waves. The first wave is the land rush, when investors rush to try to get a deal done by December 31st, 2019. The second phase is the business boom. The Opportunity Zone is not only a real estate program but a business investment program. If you think like a venture capitalist thinks, this gives individuals the opportunity to invest in a business where the money put in will come back tax-free. Phase 3 is the marriage of the two last phases called the End Zone.
The final speaker was Lane Udis of Mark Lane Properties and the Midway Arts Building in Coatesville. Lane explained the exciting improvements to the abandoned building they acquired in Coatesville which is now called Midway Arts. Lane and his partner, Mark Sherman, have focused on bringing the old building back to life. The building is now a thriving workspace where multiple creative businesses intermingle and build upon one another’s positive energy. The space holds a CrossFit gym, a pottery studio, tattoo artist, knife craftsman and more. They look forward to filling even more space in the building and continuing the atmosphere that has sparked from their decision to open this space in Coatesville.
If you have interest in Chester County’s Qualified Opportunity Zones please visit: chescowest.com/opportunity-zones