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Forum will bring investors, investment opportunities together

HATTIESBURG — August 16 will be a good day for business in Mississippi. That’s the day an informational conference is being held at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Thad Cochran Center to match investors with investment opportunities in the state. The Mississippi New Markets Tax Credit Forum will be held from 8 a.m. until noon. It is being hosted by the Mississippi Development Authority with the support of Senators Cochran and Trent Lott.

“These investors have already been granted tax credits and are companies that have indicated an interest in Mississippi,” said MDA director of communications Scott Hamilton. “It’s companies from Goldman Sachs to local investors. We want to do this to encourage investment opportunities in the state. It’s important to bring these entities together especially now that the program has been expanded to include the Go Zone.”

The New Markets Tax Credit Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. It was established by Congress in December 2000. This program attracts private-sector capital investment into the nation’s urban and rural low-income areas to help finance community development projects, stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

The program permits taxpayers to receive a credit against federal income taxes for making qualified equity investments in designated Community Development Entities (CDEs). Substantially all of the qualified equity investment must in turn be used by the CDE to provide investments in low-income communities.

Because of the Gulf Opportunity Zone established to aid hurricane recovery, the CDFI and Internal Revenue Service have issued a notice to expand the New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTCP). This notice also designates certain individuals displaced from their principal residences and/or lost their principal sources of employment as a result of Hurricane Katrina as a targeted population.

Community Development Entities will be permitted to invest in certain businesses located in census tracts in the GO Zone with incomes higher than those traditionally served by the program.

“The focus will be on the New Markets Tax Credit Program and its potential impact in Mississippi,” Hamilton said. “The Treasury Department will discuss the basics of the program, tax credit allocation selection criteria and tips for project applicants.”

Additionally, a panel of investors will discuss the types of investment opportunities they are currently seeking and there will be a presentation on the uses of credits for real estate and private investment.

Hamilton said the state’s senators are contacting investors to attend the forum. Letters of invitation have gone out from Gov. Haley Barbour’s office to economic developers, bankers and Mississippi Economic Council members. There is no admission but attendees must be registered with MDA to attend.

An organization wishing to receive awards under the program must be certified as a CDE by the fund. To qualify, an organization must:

• Be a domestic corporation or partnership at the time of the certification application.

• Demonstrate a primary mission of serving or providing investment capital for low-income communities or low-income persons.

• Maintain accountability to residents of low-income communities through representation on a governing board or advisory board to the entity.

For more information or to register, visit MDA’s Web site at www.mississippi.org and click on the Mississippi New Markets Tax Credit Forum link.

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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