Unique new fund features incentives to invest in Waterville's growing downtown

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WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - The Central Maine Growth Council has formed a new fund to help grow and direct investment into downtown Waterville's Opportunity Zone.

They say it's one of the first economic development corporation-owned funds in the country.

Opportunity zones are a federal incentive program aimed at developing communities with capital gains tax relaxation incentives for investors.

Waterville's Opportunity Zone is 1,000 acres that spans a long stretch of the Kennebec River and includes downtown Waterville.

The Elm City Fund will increase the ability of the Central Maine Growth Council to attract investments in the zone.

"This initiative will allow us to stimulate further investment and really help create the conditions of what's already occurring here in the community including unprecedented amounts of investment that we're seeing in the region and the downtown due to the great work and investment of a number of different public, private, civic, and institutional partners," said Garvan Donegan, Director of Planning and Economic Development for the Central Maine Growth Council.

Donegan says that the fund allows them to focus on three principal goals: job creation, business creation, and local GDP creation.

By creating this fund, they open up investment opportunities to a wider array of people.

"This program really allows us to diversify the potential opportunities within the community -- broaden that to smaller or mid-sized family investors," said Donegan.

He says the program will allow Waterville to continue to grow.

"This will mitigate risk profiles, make for more favorable return structures, and allow investors to team up and match up for opportunities here within the Opportunity Zone," said Donegan.

Along with a new downtown hotel and revitalization of the Lockwood Mill buildings, Waterville really seems to be on the rise.

"They often say economic development is extremely visible, and this is going to be a good example of that," said Donegan.