ASHLAND, Ky. — Nearly 70 investors, bankers, business owners and members of the community gathered Tuesday to set their sights on learning about options within Opportunity Zones during a comprehensive seminar at the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center.

Opportunity Zones are federally designated areas in which investors and entrepreneurs can pursue business opportunities and receive significant tax breaks.

The event was hosted by Northeast Kentucky Development. The forum explained the technical side of how Opportunity Zones work as well as their relation to Kentucky’s recent P3 statute and the Tri-State Angel Investment Group.e

“Opportunity Zones are completely different to what anyone has really worked with before,” said Sam Howard of Northeast Kentucky Development. Howard has helped develop a master plan for property on an Opportunity Zone in South Shore Industrial Park.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 went through Congress with the goal of furthering economic development in rural and low-income areas. It was left up to state governors to select the zones in their states. The Ashland Alliance played a role in determining the Opportunity Zones for Boyd and Greenup Counties.

“Very early on we were contacted by the state of Kentucky and asked to give info when they were creating the opportunity zones,” said Tim Gibbs, chief executive officer of Ashland Alliance. “But opportunity zones are simply a way to link projects to available capital.”

The three locations are a section of downtown Ashland, EastPark industrial Center and a section of riverfront in Greenup County.

“I think this will lead to some investment and more businesses moving in,” said Greenup County Judge Executive Bobby Carpenter.