PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Treasury has selected Ecotrust to allocate $30 million in new markets tax credits to innovative initiatives that create economic, social and environmental benefit in the Northwest’s rural and disadvantaged communities. The allocations provided by Ecotrust will:
- Help finance the purchase and long-term management of forests by entities who wish to further the public benefits — such as carbon storage, habitat enhancement and economic opportunities — that forests provide.
- Assist tribes in repatriating former tribal forestlands and to implement long-term management plans that improve forest health and provide economic benefits to the tribe.
- Help finance the start up or expansion of wood pellet, biomass and other facilities that create economic opportunities for rural communities and provide a market for waste wood, logging slash, and other materials. The intent is to divert waste from landfills, improve forest health, reduce the risk of forest fires, develop markets for waste materials, and enhance the profitability of forests that are managed to further the public interest.
Broad Benefit for the Region
The $30 million in new markets tax credits to Ecotrust were among $5 billion in allocations made across the country on October 30 by the U.S. Treasury, $1.5 billion of which is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia is among others in the region receiving new markets tax credit allocations; they received $40 million.
New markets tax credits are issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to stimulate investment in communities suffering from poverty and unemployment. Community development entities such as Ecotrust compete for new markets tax credit allocations annually and are awarded the funds based on their experience, capacity, and ability to stimulate investment and jobs in economically disadvantaged communities. Historically, these credits are applied to urban areas, making awards for rural community development especially significant.
Through an affiliate, Ecotrust will make investments in businesses in the forest products sector and employ management practices that emphasize both job creation and long-term ecological restoration. Investments will allow degraded forestlands with value as fish and wildlife habitat to be purchased, restored and put in long-term harvest rotations. Investments are designed to occur in areas designated as “economically distressed” by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Support from Oregon’s Political Leaders
Oregon’s senators and congressmen endorsed the allocation and are calling for quick application of the credits.
“If it weren’t for the new markets tax credits, worthy job-creating projects throughout the state would not have been possible,” said Senator Ron Wyden. “This access to capital will not only help jump start new investments, it will help breathe life into the struggling construction trades and help create family-wage jobs for Oregonians.”
“This tax credit will help Ecotrust continue its important work on conservation-oriented forest management,” said Congressman Peter DeFazio. “It will help continue their work on a range of economic development projects including funding the purchase of forestland for conservation and habitat improvements in critical areas, to expanding biomass facilities that both create economic opportunities for rural communities and better use wood waste and forest slash.”
“As Oregon contends with double digit unemployment, the news of millions for our state in new markets tax credits is welcome, particularly for rural communities that are hardest hit by job loss and the poor economy,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer. “I congratulate Ecotrust on securing this investment and look forward to working with our partners to ensure it is well managed.”
“Ecotrust’s work reflects the best of Oregon values,” said Congressman David Wu. “I’m truly excited about the possibilities for our state as a result of the federal government’s decision to give Ecotrust this award, and look forward to seeing these tax credits used to support projects that will make a difference in our communities.”
Over nearly 20 years, Ecotrust has converted $60 million in grants into more than $300 million in capital for local people, businesses, and organizations from Alaska to California. Ecotrust’s many innovations include co-founding the world’s first environmental bank, starting the world’s first ecosystem investment fund, creating a range of programs in fisheries, forestry, food, farms and children’s health, and developing new scientific and information tools to improve social, economic and environmental decision-making. Ecotrust works locally in ways that promise hope abroad, and it honors and supports the wisdom of Native and First Nation leadership in its work. More on the Web at www.ecotrust.org.