Opportunity Zones in North Carolina: Investing in Economic Growth and Community Development

December 20, 2023

Learn about Opportunity Zones and how they can provide tax benefits for investors. Understand the potential of these economically distressed communities.

Opportunity Zones, a creation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, have emerged as a powerful tool for driving investment into economically distressed communities across the United States. These designated areas, selected by state governors and certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, offer investors significant tax benefits in exchange for long-term commitments to community development projects. By channeling private capital into underserved neighborhoods, Opportunity Zones aim to spur economic growth, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for residents.

Understanding Opportunity Zones

At their core, Opportunity Zones are economically distressed communities where new investments may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. These zones are typically characterized by high poverty rates, low median family incomes, and a lack of access to capital. By offering tax incentives to investors, the Opportunity Zone program seeks to attract private investment into these communities, catalyzing economic development and creating new opportunities for residents.

To be designated as an Opportunity Zone, a community must be nominated by its state governor and certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Once certified, these zones retain their designation for a period of ten years, providing a stable and predictable environment for investors to make long-term commitments to community development projects.

Tax Benefits for Opportunity Zone Investors

One of the key attractions of Opportunity Zones for investors is the potential for significant tax benefits. By investing in Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs), which are investment vehicles organized as corporations or partnerships to invest in eligible property within Opportunity Zones, investors can defer paying taxes on capital gains until December 31, 2026, or until the investment is sold, whichever comes first.

In addition to the deferral of capital gains taxes, investors can also benefit from a step-up in basis for their Opportunity Zone investments. If an investor holds their QOF investment for at least five years, they are eligible for a 10% exclusion of the deferred gain. If the investment is held for at least seven years, the exclusion increases to 15%.

Perhaps most significantly, if an investor holds their QOF investment for at least ten years, they may be eligible to increase their basis to the fair market value on the date the QOF investment is sold. This means that any appreciation in the value of the QOF investment over the ten-year period could be exempt from capital gains taxes, providing a powerful incentive for long-term investment in Opportunity Zone communities.

Opportunity Zones in North Carolina

North Carolina has fully embraced the Opportunity Zone program, with 252 designated zones across the state. These zones, located in both urban and rural areas, represent a diverse array of investment opportunities for those looking to make a positive impact on North Carolina communities.

Exploring North Carolina's Opportunity Zones

North Carolina's Opportunity Zones are spread throughout the state, with notable concentrations in several key cities and regions. In Charlotte, for example, several Opportunity Zones are located near Uptown, West Charlotte, and East Charlotte, offering investors the chance to participate in the city's ongoing economic growth and development.

Raleigh, the state capital, also features multiple Opportunity Zones, particularly in the southeast and northeast parts of the city. These zones, many of which are located in close proximity to major transportation corridors and employment centers, present attractive opportunities for investors looking to capitalize on Raleigh's strong economic fundamentals.

Durham, known for its thriving research and technology sectors, has several Opportunity Zones concentrated in the eastern part of the city. These zones, which include both residential and commercial areas, offer investors the chance to support Durham's continued growth and development while potentially realizing significant tax benefits.

Other notable Opportunity Zones in North Carolina can be found in cities like Greensboro, where zones are scattered throughout the city, including areas near downtown and in the southeast. These zones, like those in other parts of the state, represent unique opportunities for investors to drive economic growth and support community development initiatives.

Investing in North Carolina's Opportunity Zones

For investors interested in taking advantage of the tax benefits offered by Opportunity Zones, the process begins with investing in Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs). These funds, which can be created by investors themselves or managed by investment professionals, are required to hold at least 90% of their assets in qualifying Opportunity Zone property.

Qualifying Opportunity Zone property can include a wide range of assets, from real estate and businesses to equipment and infrastructure. This flexibility allows investors to tailor their investments to their specific goals and risk tolerances, while still maintaining eligibility for the program's tax benefits.

When considering an investment in a North Carolina Opportunity Zone, it is essential for investors to conduct thorough due diligence on both the QOF and the underlying investment opportunity. This may involve working with experienced professionals who have a deep understanding of the local market dynamics and can provide guidance on the most promising investment opportunities.

Investors should also carefully consider the alignment of their investment with their broader financial goals and risk tolerance. While the tax benefits offered by Opportunity Zones can be significant, it is important to remember that these investments are typically long-term in nature and may involve a higher degree of risk than more traditional investment vehicles.


Opportunity Zones in North Carolina offer a unique and compelling investment opportunity for those looking to make a positive impact on economically distressed communities while potentially realizing significant tax benefits. By directing private capital into underserved areas, investors can play a crucial role in driving economic growth, creating jobs, and improving the quality of life for residents.

As with any investment, however, it is important for those considering an Opportunity Zone investment to approach the process with care and due diligence. By working with experienced professionals, carefully evaluating potential investments, and maintaining a long-term perspective, investors can maximize their chances of success while supporting the revitalization of North Carolina's communities.

A Word from Tim Clarke

As a real estate professional with over 17 years of experience, I have seen firsthand the transformative power of targeted investment in underserved communities. Opportunity Zones represent a unique chance for investors to be a part of this transformation, driving economic growth and creating new opportunities for residents in North Carolina and beyond.

However, it is important for investors to approach Opportunity Zone investments with a clear understanding of the risks and challenges involved. These investments are not suitable for everyone, and it is crucial to work with experienced professionals who can provide guidance and support throughout the investment process.

At the Tim M. Clarke Team, we are committed to helping our clients navigate the complex world of Opportunity Zone investing. With our deep knowledge of the North Carolina real estate market and our network of trusted partners, we are well-positioned to guide investors through the process of identifying and executing on promising Opportunity Zone investments.

If you are interested in learning more about Opportunity Zones in North Carolina and how they may fit into your investment strategy, I encourage you to reach out to our team. We would be happy to share our insights and expertise, and to help you explore the potential of these unique investment opportunities. Together, we can work to build a brighter future for North Carolina's communities while potentially realizing significant tax benefits along the way.

Tim M. Clarke

About the author

17 years as a Realtor in the Research Triangle, Tim seeks to transform the Raleigh-Durham real estate scene through a progressive, people-centered approach prioritizing trust & transparency.

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