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White House recognizes BRITE, Chamber effort

Cites work with two companies in opportunity zones

WARREN — The Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber and BRITE Energy Innovators have been recognized in a report by the White House’s Opportunity and Revitalization Council.

The report, “Best Practices and Case Studies: Qualified Opportunity Funds,” was done by the 23-member group created to carry out President Donald Trump’s opportunity zone plan, which encourages public and private investment in urban and economically distressed areas.

The report cites two examples of the work being done by BRITE portfolio companies.

“Qualified Opportunity Fund capital enabled an energy incubator in northeast Ohio to assist two startups by funding their work in medical software and Internet of Things hardware solutions,” it states.

In addition, “One product, an artificial intelligence-powered medical diagnostic and patient care tool, was deployed in response to COVID-19. The other investment scaled implementation of energy optimization Internet of Things devices for smart buildings.”

Opportunity zone efforts in the Mahoning Valley were showcased to White House officials last summer when the chamber’s foundation and BRITE launched the Valley’s opportunity zone investment prospectus.

“This is further proof of how much we can accomplish through collaboration between our organizations,” Guy Coviello, foundation president said.

Rick Stockburger, BRITE president and CEO, said, “It’s quite an accomplishment for two of our portfolio companies to have their work recognized by the White House.”

Federal lawmakers created the program in 2018 as a way to incentivize private investment in distressed communities by offering reduced and deferred capital gains taxes to investors. Investors must create private investment vehicles called “opportunity funds” and invest at least 90 percent of the capital from the funds in opportunity zones. They are encouraged to invest their capital gains tax savings back into the zones.

Investments in the zones are eligible to receive a 10-year federal tax break. In the Mahoning Valley, there are 15 such designated areas.

Two BRITE portfolio companies — Warren-based Intwine Connect, an Internet of Things hardware and software solutions provider, and Akron’s GeneratorWorks, which develops support applications for the health-care industry — are using the opportunity zone funding to deploy further their technology solutions.

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