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Opportunity Zone Designation to Stimulate Investment in Town of Robbins

Update:  On May 18, 2018, the U.S. Treasury officially certified Census Tract 9502 as an Opportunity Zone.  It is now one of 252 low-income census tracts certified in North Carolina.

Census Tract 9502 in Moore County, which includes the Town of Robbins, is one of 252 census tracts in North Carolina that the NC Department of Commerce (NCDOC) has nominated to be an “Opportunity Zone”.

Created under the recently passed federal legislation known as The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R.1), the Opportunity Zones Program is designed to encourage job creation, economic activity, housing, and other community investments in those areas designated as Opportunity Zones.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allows each state to designate up to 25 percent of its total low-income census tracts as zone candidates. In accordance with federal guidelines, NCDOC has submitted a list of 252 census tracts in North Carolina to the U.S. Treasury recommending that these tracts be officially certified as Opportunity Zones.  Final certification is expected in the coming months as criteria and guidelines to define key aspects of the Opportunity Zone program are being defined.

This program provides a new source of investment capital for areas that need it the most. To be an eligible census tract, the tract must have a poverty rate of 20% or greater and/or have family income less than 80% of the area’s median income. The legislation creates a tax break for qualified investors who wish to reinvest unrealized capital gains, avoiding standard capital gain tax obligations.

The Town of Robbins has been deeply affected by both foreign competition and the domestic economic recession. The Town once enjoyed a strong industrial base in traditional manufacturing, but since 1990, it has lost all of its major manufacturing employers.  While Robbins does face obstacles that are making economic revitalization challenging, community leaders and residents are taking strategic actions to redefine the Town’s identity and help Robbins find its niche in the global economy.  Robbins is focused on advancing objectives related to economic development, specifically entrepreneurship, redevelopment and reuse of buildings, improvement of housing and infrastructure, and overall improvement of the quality of life for citizens.

Today, the Town is beginning to experience the promise of a brighter future as it positions itself for economic growth and investment.  In October 2017, Minhas Furniture House announced the relocation of their manufacturing operations to a 125,000 square-foot building in Robbins that had been vacant for several years.  The company expects to invest at least $2.5 million and create more than 100 new jobs over the next 5 years.

Recently, Robbins was awarded a Community Development Block Grant of over $2 million for water infrastructure improvements. The Town was also recently awarded $200,000 to finish cleaning up the Millikan Mill site that the Town intends to redevelop into light industrial and multi-family residential areas.

Pat Corso, Executive Director of Moore County Partners in Progress, said, “Designating Census Tract 9502 as an Opportunity Zone to encourage much-needed private investment in the community will create a positive ripple effect throughout the Town and will add to the momentum toward a more prosperous future. I think great changes are on the horizon, and it is truly an exciting time for Robbins.”

“I am proud of what we are doing and the support we have gained throughout the community, Moore County, and North Carolina,” said Robbins’ Mayor Lonnie English. “This opportunity zone designation will open up Robbins to investors to make Robbins thrive again.”

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