President Trump launches council to encourage Opportunity Zone investments
By Opportunity Zone Expo Staff
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order establishing a new White House council that will encourage investment into the nation’s Opportunity Zones.
“With the creation of today’s council, the resources of the whole federal government will be leveraged to rebuild low-income and impoverished neighborhoods that have been ignored by Washington in years past,” Trump said in remarks delivered Wednesday at the White House. “Our goal is to ensure that America’s great new prosperity is broadly shared by all of our citizens.”
The White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, to be chaired by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, will have representatives from 13 federal agencies who will work alongside state, local and tribal governments to encourage development in economically distressed communities. Government officials also say they’ll be looking into regulatory reforms that will remove barriers that hinder revitalization efforts.
“For decades, job growth and investment have been concentrated in a few major metropolitan areas,” Trump said. “This has created a geographic disparity — a very big one, in many cases — where some cities have thrived while others have suffered chronic economic and social hardship. With Opportunity Zones, we are drawing investment into neglected and underserved communities of America so that all Americans, regardless of ZIP code, have access to the American Dream.”
There are 8,761 Opportunity Zones nationwide in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. They are anticipated to spur $100 billion in private capital investment, according to government predictions. Senator Tim Scott was among those who led the mission to include Opportunity Zones in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Trump said.
The zones were picked from among low-income U.S. Census tracts. Under the Opportunity Zone law, which was part of Trump’s signature tax plan approved by Congress last year, investment in the zones will provide significant tax savings while also encouraging revitalization and job creation in economically distressed communities.
“Today, the nation’s unemployment rate is at a 49-year low,” Carson said at Wednesday’s White House meeting about the executive order. “Jobless rates among African-Americans [are] down to a record low of 5.9 percent. Wages on the rise. While we can all be proud of these achievements, one challenge has remained: There are still communities in our country that have seen little or no new investment in generations.”
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, called the anticipated investment into Opportunity Zones the medicine “a doctor would prescribe to heal communities where nearly one in three people live in poverty, and unemployment is nearly twice the national average.”