WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Nearly every chair in the conference room at the Advanced Learning Library was full on Thursday afternoon as federal, state and local leaders discussed opportunity zones.

The zones provide tax incentives for development in Wichita neighborhoods with hopes of making them more attractive.

“Look at a way to invest in your own city that will pay you back considerable dividends and at the same time you get to invest in your city and make it a better place for people to live wok and play,” mayor Jeff Longwell said.

According to the Greater Wichita Partnership:

For the investor, the Opportunity Zone program offers tax incentives including deferral and reduction of capital gains taxes when the gain is invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund and maintained for a period of at least five years. Investors can defer tax on any prior gains invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF) until the earlier of the date on which the investment is sold or exchanged or December 31, 2026. If the Qualified Opportunity Fund investment is held for longer than five years, there is a 10% exclusion of the deferred gain with that increasing to 15% after seven years. If the investor holds the QOF investment for at least 10 years, the investor is eligible for permanent exclusion from taxable income of capital gains accrued on the QOF investment.

From large companies to smaller ones, a variety of developers listened intently on Thursday afternoon.

Gavin Eddy moved to Wichita eight months ago for his job with Capstone Funding Group, which employs six people.

“There’s lots of opportunities for us to grow and take advantage of these opportunities to help ourselves out but lots of other people too,” Eddy said.

City councilman Brandon Johnson hopes development in the opportunity zones within his district can fill empty lots with ousing or businesses.

“So if we can get the mom and pop shop to get empowered and start a business in the area to help clean it up, these opportunity zones provide that opportunity now,” Johnson said.

More meetings are expected going forward.