HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A new federal program called "opportunity zones" is part of President Trump's 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It's aimed to help low income areas of the Grand Strand geared for wage growth and business investments. There are 13 areas along the Grand Strand submitted to the governor that could qualify; four of them are in Myrtle Beach city limits. In order to qualify, the zones are set based on poverty and income. The governor of each state can designate no more than a quarter of the qualifying areas.
Myrtle Beach city spokesperson Mark Kruea said one of these zones is the downtown business district. He said this would give private investors a reason and incentive to come spend their money here because they'll save money years down the road.
"It's designed to encourage private investment in areas which are struggling. It's either a low income or is just not doing well economically, and it gives those private investors a break after a certain period of time on their capital gains taxes - so they make an investment in the area and down the road, they don't have to pay the capital gains taxes. So it's a better deal for them, plus it's a good deal for the local community because you get more private investment," Kruea said.
If the zones succeed, they could help revitalize neighborhoods and towns that are starved for investment.
In a letter to Governor Henry McMaster, Congressman Tom Rice says three of the five most underserved counties in South Carolina are within the Pee Dee area.
He says those counties are Dillon, Marion, and Marlboro and have some of the highest unemployment rates and lowest average incomes in the state. He also says Horry and Georgetown counties have unemployment rates above the state average. Congressman Rice believes this incentive can make a big difference for the area.
Governor McMaster's deadline to make the recommendations is on March 21, with the opportunity of a one time 30 day extension.