County hunts for Oberlin business investors

Staff Report

Hoping to drive investment, Lorain County commissioners are asking the state to designate downtown Oberlin and the city’s industrial park as “opportunity zones.”

Such areas are defined based on low-income census data.

“U.S. investors currently hold trillions of dollars in unrealized capital gains in stocks and mutual funds alone — a significant resource for economic development,” according to a March 14 report to the commissioners. “Opportunity funds provide investors the chance to put that money to work rebuilding the nation’s left-behind communities.”

Oberlin’s tracts were identified based on vacant industrial land and ongoing investment at the Hotel at Oberlin.

Other zones where investment is needed lie in Elyria and Lorain, said commissioners.

They include downtown Lorain with Broadway Hotel redevelopment and Black River Landing; finger piers and First Energy lakefront land; U.S. Steel and Republic Steel; Midway Mall; Riverbend Commerce Park, Rowland Property, and Emerson Buildings; Bendix and Riddell; downtown Elyria; the 3M building; and South Lorain, Oakwood Park, and the Rt. 57 corridor.

Opportunity funds take the form of tax deferrals and capital gains incentives.

“Working with local and regional partners allowed us to pull together a strong list of tracts that are strategic,” said commissioner Ted Kalo. “These areas have either seen recent investment that this tax change could enhance and expand or are being prepared to attract investment through the actions of the county and its partners in the Port, Land Bank, and cities.”

Staff Report