The small town of Silt in Garfield County is the latest in the region hoping to capitalize on federal government designation as an opportunity zone for economic development.

The town last week published a prospectus aimed at luring investor dollars to the community based on the designation. The federal Opportunity Zone program was created as part of the 2017 tax reform bill.

As described on the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade website, it provides federal tax incentives to invest in lower-income urban and rural communities through favorable treatment of reinvested capital gains and tax forgiveness for new capital gains.

The U.S. Treasury Department has designated several such zones in Grand Junction and Mesa County, with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and other economic boosters looking to capitalize on them as another means of attracting investors.

The town of Silt petitioned to be designated as an opportunity zone with the help of the state and the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado. The zone includes the entire town and a large region mostly to the south of it.

"The prospectus was developed to showcase the distinctive assets and investable projects in Silt, set the context of our regional market, offer detail on local organizations and projects and tout the advantages of investing in Silt," the town said in a news release.

Silt, with a population of about 3,100 people, offers advantages such as good infrastructure, a redeveloped downtown, an urban renewal authority and an expedited development process, the town's prospectus says.

It acknowledges challenges including the town's small budget, a low housing vacancy rate, and few properties zoned for light-industrial and industrial uses.

It also details local demographics, lists schools that serve the area, notes local agricultural successes and opportunities, and speaks of the ongoing regional effort to have Grand Junction Regional Airport made a foreign trade zone.

Silt Mayor Keith Richel said that it's exciting to be part of this new approach to economic development.

"We're hoping that Silt will benefit by this incentive," he said. "With the national economy being healthy and Colorado's population growth, we believe Silt is poised to grow and develop positively, too."

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