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New Iberia clinic wins Opportunity Zone pitch competition

Keys Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic, a mental health and substance abuse clinic in New Iberia, was named the winner of Innovate South's OZ Pitch Fest on Wednesday, which could help the clinic attract the investors necessary to expand.

The OZ Pitch Fest is a competition where companies pitched projects in Opportunity Zones to a panel of judges. The winner of the competition received a feature on the Economic Innovation Group's next Opportunity Zone newsletter and a private strategy consultation with OZ Pros, a group that helps developers navigate the zones.

The competition was part of Innovate South, an annual business conference aimed at helping businesses grow. The OZ Pitch Fest is one of two competitions alongside the Get Started Medical Pitch Competition on Thursday. Due to COVID-19, the conference is bring held virtually.

Opportunity zones are low-income areas where developers can receive tax breaks and incentives. Seven census tracts in the north and central parts of Lafayette with about 29,000 residents were designated through the federal Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.

Across the region, 18 more tracts with about 72,500 more residents, were given the same designation in 2018, which decreases or eliminates federal capital gains taxes on investments.

Keys Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic, a mental health and substance abuse clinic in New Iberia, was named the winner of Innovate South's OZ Pitch Fest on Wednesday, which could help the clinic attract the investors necessary to expand.

The OZ Pitch Fest is a competition where companies pitched projects in Opportunity Zones to a panel of judges. The winner of the competition received a feature on the Economic Innovation Group's next Opportunity Zone newsletter and a private strategy consultation with OZ Pros, a group that helps developers navigate the zones.

The competition was part of Innovate South, an annual business conference aimed at helping businesses grow. The OZ Pitch Fest is one of two competitions alongside the Get Started Medical Pitch Competition on Thursday. Due to COVID-19, the conference is bring held virtually.

Opportunity zones are low-income areas where developers can receive tax breaks and incentives. Seven census tracts in the north and central parts of Lafayette with about 29,000 residents were designated through the federal Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.

Across the region, 18 more tracts with about 72,500 more residents, were given the same designation in 2018, which decreases or eliminates federal capital gains taxes on investments.

Angela O'Bryne, a board member for Keys, said the clinic is looking to buy four historical buildings in New Iberia to expand its operations, including the creation of sober living residences that could help prevent relapses.

"The relapse rate is currently 50% in Louisiana, and we know that we can reduce that relapse rate to 5% with these sober living residences," O'Bryne said.

Keys has been operating for 15 years and serves six parishes in the Acadiana region. O'Bryne said Keys is an important part of Iberia Parish, as the area only has one other inpatient substance abuse clinic, and the other clinic is for patients age 50 or older.

O'Bryne said with their current space, Keys is referring five to ten patients to other parishes each week. She said those clinics have two to four week waiting periods.

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