The final month of the year is here. Looking back on 2019 reveals a productive effort by our team of 100-plus employees and our many partner organizations in Lac du Flambeau and across the state.
The LDF Business Development Corporation and Vilas County Economic Development Corporation kicked off the year by co-hosting a slate of economic development experts for an Opportunity Zone Summit at Lake of the Torches Resort and Casino.
Throughout 2019, we’ve worked to determine how we might leverage tax incentives within Opportunity Zones. We will continue to work with regional leaders, developers, business owners and entrepreneurs, and investment advisors to determine how best to leverage the tax and development incentives within Opportunity Zones. Lac du Flambeau is an Opportunity Zone, with others designated across the region.
The federal 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act established Opportunity Zones. The program is designed to drive long-term capital to rural and low-income urban communities throughout the nation. Capital gains tax incentives are used to encourage private investment in impact funds. And, no, you need not live in an Opportunity Zone to invest in one.
According to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), Opportunity Zones are the largest federal economic development program in the last 15 years.
For those interested in what Opportunity Zones offer and the mutual benefits for investors and communities, we’re always open to discussing how we might work together to that end.
Certifications Spark Growth
A slate of government certifications and designations were obtained earlier this year, positioning the BDC to create even more jobs and economic growth through federal and state contracts and private sector investment.
LDF Construction, a BDC business unit, now is certified to participate in the U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program and the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Minority Business Enterprise Program. These designations will help LDF Construction compete for direct-bid contracts as well as jumpstart partnerships and alliances with other organizations. One of the state’s largest contractors, Findorff, has a working relationship with us as a result of these designations.
This year, LDF Construction was awarded a $1,015,000 federal 8(a) construction contract by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forestry Service. This was the first contract awarded to LDF Construction through the federal 8(a) program, but it’s the fourth federal construction project LDF Construction has worked on for the U.S. government.
Recognition for Development
Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) recognized BDC for its efforts to advance the Workforce Development & Business Training Center in the Lac du Flambeau Business Park.
The Workforce Development & Business Training Center is another foundational building block to ultimately create a scalable, vibrant and sustainable business development model. This training and business development center, slated for the Lac du Flambeau Business Park, is designed to become a skilled workforce hub, providing the resources, training and skills required for sustainable careers throughout the region.
Financial Services Flourishing
LDF Holdings, our online lending business, over the last five years, has seen growth year-over-year since its launch to provide online financial services and employment opportunities to support the business, which operates a call center right here in Lac du Flambeau.
Other developments include launching a consulting business to share our industry knowledge with other Tribes, hosting an annual compliance conference in Chicago, and a visit to Washington, DC, as part of the Native American Financial Services Association. While there, LDF Holdings executives met with the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
New Retail Center Rising
Last for this column, but certainly not least, is our new retail development in the heart of Lac du Flambeau. We are building a new, full-service grocery store with convenient fueling stations and smoke shop all under one roof. If all goes according to plan, we are scheduled to open the new building mid-Summer 2020. It is part of a master plan that calls for more retail space development in the future.
Randy Soulier is COO of LDF Business Development Corporation (LDFBDC.com). His 20+ years of business experience includes leadership roles in operations and marketing. He holds degrees in Marketing and Integrative Leadership with emphasis in Human Development. Randy also serves as President of LDF Construction and is a board member for the Vilas Country Economic Development Corporation and the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, Inc.