A Big Tax Break for Socially Responsible Investing
By Paul Sullivan
Steve Baird runs a Chicago real estate firm that is in its fifth generation. It’s a big operation that serves some of the nicest areas in the city and suburbs with brokerage, mortgage and title insurance services.
But in running a family-owned business, Mr. Baird said, he inherited his father’s interest in investing in underserved communities. And a recent clarification of a tax incentive for so-called opportunity zones — which are aimed at encouraging substantial investment in communities that need it — has caused him to step up his efforts in these areas.
“You’re going into an area that as a general rule hasn’t had any investment, and people don’t know about it,” said Mr. Baird, chief executive and president of Baird & Warner. “A normal investor doesn’t go into these areas and doesn’t understand the economic drivers. When you’re developing in downtown Chicago, you know all those things: demand, community, underwriting. These opportunity zones don’t have that or they’d have attracted investment.”
Photo courtesy of GotCredit.