Zones of Opportunity are All Over the Panhandle

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By Ashley Vannoy

Keeping a close watch on permits and the economic development efforts of a literal army of professionals we have across the panhandle, it is easy to identify prospective businesses both large and small that are coming to our area. An actual feasibility study is being performed by a consultant from our own Okaloosa County Economic Alliance to measure the need and probability for success for a business incubator. Incubators are facilities that provide startups with services and education to help them launch quickly into the space they are competing in. Techrepublic.com states, “Incubators “incubate” disruptive ideas with the hope of building out a business model and company. Incubators are often more focused on innovation. Startups that are accepted into incubator programs relocate to our area to work with other companies in the incubator. Within the incubator, a company will refine its idea, build out its business plan, work on product-market fit, identify intellectual property issues, and network in the startup ecosystem.”

My role as small business lender is to assist these companies any way I can with examples of business plans, SBA financing, or even just a referral of a local CPA or grant program. An incubator can truly benefit our area organically in this way, so stay tuned to this publication for the results of the study.

Tax benefits that accompany Qualified Opportunity Zones create a powerful incentive to allocate capital into economically distressed areas, and in some cases, allow investors to defer taxes on realized gains and even reduce tax liability. Opportunity Zones were created as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with the intention to attract investment capital into these areas. Local investors are taking advantage of the zone just north of Lake Defuniak that is resulting in leasing space to businesses that have revitalized the whole downtown area. Fort Walton Beach has one that is centrally located as well just waiting for real estate holding companies to infuse capital into.

Ashley Vannoy has been a real estate lender for 15 years in Destin. For more information about incubators, Opportunity Zones, or real estate related questions, please call Ashley Vannoy at 850-533-7389.