Senator Bill Cook - March 21 Legislative Update | Eastern North Carolina Now

Recognizing a new path to revitalization, the State of North Carolina is quickly moving to take advantage of the newly established Opportunity Zones Program, which focuses on distressed, low-income census tracks for targeted economic investments

    Press Release:

Expanding Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Eastern North Carolina

    Recognizing a new path to revitalization, the State of North Carolina is quickly moving to take advantage of the newly established Opportunity Zones Program, which focuses on distressed, low-income census tracks for targeted economic investments. The Opportunity Zones Program was officially enacted and signed into law on December 22, 2017, as part of President Trump's comprehensive tax reform plan via the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

    Opportunity Zones exist to fund new and small businesses, develop blighted properties, invest in key local infrastructure projects, finance facility construction or refurbishment, and a number of other activities intended to revitalize and enhance local economic ecosystems. United States investors hold an estimated $2.3 trillion in underutilized capital gains from stocks and mutual funds alone. Opportunity Funds allow investors to roll these passive holdings of accumulated capital gains into distressed communities, by pooling capital and risk with other like-minded investors in a simplified, frictionless manner.

    Certain investments in Opportunity Zones will no longer be subject to capital gains, in order to best incentivize long-term investor commitment. Opportunity Zones will help attract otherwise wary investors to America's most underserved communities; new investment will flow into blighted developments, stalled infrastructure projects, and other desperately needed economic enhancements, driving improvements that will help turn dreams to reality.

    North Carolina has just over 1,000 qualifying low-income census tracts, and accordingly, is authorized to designate up to 251 census tracts as Opportunity Zones. The graph shows the designated areas for opportunity zones within Senate District 1. The N.C. Dept. of Commerce is taking the lead in implementation of this program, for more information about the Opportunity Zones Program in North Carolina and related legislation, click here.

Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Grants

    The N.C. Division of Coastal Management recently announced the availability of approximately $1 million in funding to help local governments in 20 coastal counties improve public access to coastal beaches and waters for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access program provides matching funds to local governments in the 20 coastal counties. Local governments interested in applying for financial assistance must submit a pre-application to the Division of Coastal Management by 5:00 pm on April 9, 2018. Local governments will be notified by Wednesday, May 9, 2018 if their proposal is selected to submit a final application. Final Applications are anticipated to be due in Aug. 2018. All final applicants will be notified in September if their project has been selected for funding. For more information on the application process, click here. Funding for the grant program comes from the North Carolina General Assembly through the state's Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. The grant program has provided more than $46 million for more than 446 public waterfront access sites since the program began in 1981.

Offshore Energy Exploration

    The State of North Carolina is positioned to realize significant benefits from future Atlantic oil and natural gas development. In addition to helping to secure access to affordable, reliable energy for the state's residents and businesses, exploration and production of oil and natural gas offshore North Carolina would lead to good-paying jobs and generate substantial economic activity. In turn, such economic activity would also provide the state and local governments with much-needed public revenue to fund projects that contribute to the quality of life for citizens throughout the state.

    Therefore, I support President Trump's proposal 100% to unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs here in North Carolina. The proposal by the President's administration should not come at a surprise to anyone, President Trump campaigned on the promise to opening our offshore areas and reducing "unnecessary restrictions." During the campaign, President Trump's America First Energy Plan called for opening up onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands, eliminating a moratorium on coal leasing, and opening shale energy deposits.

    To back up what is at stake economically for North Carolina, I would like to bring attention to a 2014 report prepared by Timothy J. Considine, a Distinguished Professor of Energy Economics at the University of Wyoming. His analysis of the Mid-Atlantic states (GA, SC, NC, VA, MD, DE) singled out North Carolina as having the greatest potential for energy development and job creation. In fact, the report stated "Among the six states in the study area, North Carolina is likely to experience the highest level of oil and gas development spending given its relatively long coastline and promising offshore reserves." To read Prof. Considine's entire analysis, Click here.

    Prof. Considine's analysis goes further by projecting that, by 2035, the corresponding gains in employment in our State are between 36,000 and 72,000 full-time job equivalents. Investments in energy development are projected to ramp up from between $15 million to $85 million in 2020 to between $755 million to $4.28 billion by 2035. Economic impacts from expected oil and gas lease royalties are projected to be as high as $1.14 billion and up to $267.4 million in state and local tax revenues (by 2035).

    Also, noteworthy are the expected production levels of hydrocarbons by 2035 - 137,000 thousands barrels per day of oil and 1.07 trillion cubic feet of gas per day. It's important to point out the low amount of expected oil and tremendous volume of natural gas expected in North Carolina's OCS. Thus, almost all of North Carolina's reserves have been, and continue to be, considered as unspillable natural gas. Additionally, it should be noted that seismic surveys are not only conducted for offshore fuel exploration, but is also required for offshore wind development.

    Last week, Calash and Northern Economics released an analysis providing an independent evaluation of the potential impacts of the development of oil and gas resources in the Atlantic OCS. The report states: "Atlantic OCS oil and natural gas exploration and production is also expected to cause a significant increase in North Carolina's gross state product with contributions to the state economy expected to reach over $4 billion by the end of the forecast period." Click here to read a Calash and Northern Economics report.

    The North Carolina Fisheries Association, one of the largest commercial fishing advocacy groups in North Carolina, agreed that they have no opposition to moving forward with exploration for oil and gas offshore of North Carolina. Click here to read the position of the N.C. Fisheries Association regarding offshore oil and gas exploration.

    Job creation, effective global competitiveness and national security depend upon developing our nation's diverse energy resources. The identification and utilization of abundant supplies of affordable and reliable energy are vital to the prosperity of North Carolina and our nation.

    Recently, I enjoyed meeting with local veterans from the district. The N.C. Dept. of Military & Veteran's Affairs (NC DMVA) distributes each year a resource guide that provides a ready reference for not only VA related services, but also the broader range of Veterans programs operated by federal, state, local and non-profit agencies across our state. Click here to view the NC DMVA resource guide.

Manufacturer of Retail Displays to Create 57 Jobs in Beaufort County

    InterMarket Technology, Inc., a manufacturer of Point of Purchase displays and recycling bins, has selected Beaufort County for its corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility, creating 57 jobs over three years. Our community appreciates this new partnership with a growing company like InterMarket Technology. The new jobs will bring a yearly payroll impact of $1.7 million to the local economy. A performance-based grant of $50,000 from the One North Carolina Fund will help facilitate InterMarket Technology's relocation to North Carolina. The One N.C. Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment. All One NC grants require a matching grant from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met. Click here to read more about the announcement.

N.C. Main Street Award Winners

    Last week, nineteen communities received awards for excellence in downtown revitalization at the North Carolina Main Street and Small Town Main Street Awards Ceremony. Among those communities receiving recognition was Elizabeth City, which received the Best Downtown Special Event or Event Series for the promotion of SPLASH Week hosted by the Arts of the Albemarle. Congratulations to all who are involved in organizing this annual event in Elizabeth City. Additionally, congrats to the thirty-nine individuals who received honors for their contributions to the Main Street programs and downtown districts in 2017, including Ray and Maureen Donnelly of Elizabeth City, and Debbie Reed and Lillian Holman of Hertford.

    On February 27, it was a pleasure to attend a program hosted at John Small Elementary School honoring Black History Month and to recognize that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Contact: Bill Cook

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