Officials pushing Uptown ‘opportunity zone’ to encourage investment

Posted at 2:26 PM, Jul 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-10 17:43:32-04

BUTTE – Two years ago, the federal government designated some economically distressed areas – like Uptown Butte – as opportunity zones. Economic officials in Butte are ready to get the word out.

“So what we’re doing as an organization in partnership with Butte-Silver Bow is developing a package for prospective investors to invest in our Uptown Opportunity Zone,” said Joe Willauer, head of the Butte Local Development Corp.

The zone, which includes most of Uptown, provides a tax-related incentive to encourage investment.

“What it does is provide an avenue for investors to put their money into projects that they may not otherwise by giving them a tax break, so it helps them defer these taxes they would have got from capital gains while promoting areas like Uptown Butte,” said Willauer.

The funds could help encourage someone to start a business in some of Butte’s vacant buildings.

“What’s really exciting about it for us is it’s one more tool in the tool chest for us,” said Willauer.

Willauer noted that the former Northwestern Energy building, which has been vacant on East Broadway for the past three years, would be perfect to use for this opportunity zone funding if anybody is willing to invest in the property.

“Purchase a big building in Uptown Butte and you want to put a business into it — yeah, if you reached out to an opportunity zone fund and they deemed you as a project they want to work with, that’s absolutely a great avenue for investment. It’s also good for existing businesses where they can attract money for expansion,” he said.

Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News