A group of GOP senators on Friday rolled out a new bill to expand reporting requirements about investments in "opportunity zones" as the program aimed at revitalizing economically distressed communities has faces mounting scrutiny, particularly from Democrats.
This is only the beginning of the journey. To characterize this incentive as welfare for the wealthy is overly reductive and does nothing to address the systemic and long-term challenges facing people living in the nation’s most deprived communities. When it comes to economic and community development, the voice that matters most is from people living in opportunity zones. But this voice is at risk of going unheard or being even further marginalized if current narratives prevail.
Offering a decade of tax relief for funds invested in designated “opportunity zones,” the program is coaxing investment in nearly 9,000 communities in all 50 states, spanning neighborhoods with about 30 million Americans and spawning odd partnerships. Created by a Republican-controlled Congress and the Trump administration, the program has been championed by a lefty pop artist (John Legend), a liberal California governor (Gavin Newsom) and a Democratic presidential candidate, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.
“The focus is on the community,” Scott said. “If the community is not benefiting, there won’t be an opportunity zone and I won’t be supporting it. I’ve said that publicly several times and I continue to say that even today. If the community does not benefit from the opportunity zone legislation, I’ll call for it to be rescinded.”
The Economic Innovation Group (EIG) launched the Opportunity Zones Activity Map, an online portal highlighting some of the most innovative and impactful publicly-announced developments catalyzed in the early stages of this new policy. This interactive tool will help raise awareness among policymakers, investors, and the public of the impact Opportunity Zones is having in communities across the country.
Work on additional rules around qualified Opportunity Zone funds is likely to extend into December, with the goal of providing greater regulatory clarity to encourage further investment, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said Monday at the SIFMA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
EIG unveiled a new Opportunity Zones "Facts and Figures" page that details the state of social and economic need and opportunity in OZs across the country. The overview takes a closer look at OZ community population and demographics, poverty rates, income mobility, health outcomes, life expectancy, assets and anchor institutions, clean energy installations, and much more.
The Rockefeller Foundation today announced an innovative collaboration with LISC to implement the foundation's $5.5 million Opportunity Zone Capacity Building Initiative in Washington, D.C., Oakland, Newark, Atlanta, St. Louis and Dallas. LISC will work with city and community leaders to build pipelines of responsible development projects and business investments that attract private capital to Opportunity Zones with nearly 500,000 residents.
Doing good while also doing well has long been a challenge for investors who rightly pursue profitable investments, but also want to improve the world they live in. Opportunity Zones, created by President Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, provide a unique investment vehicle to do just that. Since I became head of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) in March, I have worked with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to engage with communities and regional leaders to promote the advantages of investing in Opportunity Zones.
Investors have been undergoing regulatory uncertainty which, at this time, is still in place. “You have final rulemaking from (the) IRS expected before the end of this year,” Lettieri said. “Frankly, until that’s done, I think a good portion of the marketplace is going to sit on their hands, and not really start to move until they have all of their questions answered.” Specifically, he went on to say, investors are being asked to put their capital gain into “higher risk and less well-trodden areas.