By Opportunity Zone Magazine Staff
President Trump has named NFL star and Texas state legislator Scott Turner as executive director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, which will coordinate federal agencies’ efforts to support the OZ program. We checked in with Turner as he settled into his new role. “I’m very humbled, to say the least, to have been brought in to be a part of this council,” Turner said.
What’s your vision for the council?
The President set this council up in order to fulfill his promise not to leave anyone behind. The focus and the spirit of this mission is to revitalize distressed American communities where investments haven’t been made in a very long time. For me personally, and for those working on this team, we’re focused on helping people and communities in opportunity zones and working as we can to make sure these communities have the opportunity for revitalization.
Why is this a priority for the President?
Well, it's a priority because he cares about people. For generations, there has been a lack of investment in the distressed communities of America. But there are great people, great citizens, and great potential inside of these communities. You know, there are 35 million people that live in Opportunities Zones, and it's very important that we reach those people, so that the OZs can be revitalized and their potential can be fulfilled.
Do you think you’ll be able to deliver on that potential?
Yeah! The program has great potential for success. But part of my job is to is to make sure not only that it works right now, but that it remains a tremendous success for years to come. If we get this right, it’s something that can have a generational impact on the people and families that the OZ program is designed to serve.
Why do you think you’re the right man for the job?
Part of the reason is my background in public service in Texas. But it’s also my heart for people, and my drive to see individuals and groups of people and communities achieve their God-given potential. I’ve done that all my career — even serving in the National Football League, and helping players make the difficult transition from professional sports to private life. This work is really a continuation of that — I want to use this platform, and all the experiences I’ve had, to help people grow and fulfill their potential. I believe that's why I'm here.
What’s the first order of business?
First off, we’ll be going on listening tours throughout the country, going into local communities and listening to people — local officials, faith leaders, educational leaders, business leaders — in order to hear about the pain in their community, about what's needed, and about what strategies and potential these communities have. Because the people that are there locally are the ones leading the way — we’re just the facilitators.
What have you been hearing so far?
Well, you know, we’re just now getting started and obviously there's a lot of work to do. But people are excited about this — and not just those who will be investing, but also those in communities that will be part of the revitalization effort. There's a lot of excitement out there, and it makes me happy, because revitalization really starts in people’s hearts.
Are there any major changes coming to the OZ program?
No, we’re focusing on the program and the structure that we have at this point. Obviously, things are fluid, and we may tweak things here and there as we go around the nation and hear from communities, but as it stands right now, I believe we have a great team, and a great infrastructure in place.
Will investors be getting more regulatory guidance?
We want to get the rules and regulations squared away, and to have the opportunity to link different federal agencies across the country and coordinate our resources to help people out in our distress communities of America. I know that the Treasury is working very hard to make sure that there is great clarity, and that those rules will be coming out very soon. And I believe when that happens, when that clarity comes in, it will be full steam ahead.
Will we be getting any guidance on whether cannabis projects can accept OZ capital?
That’s something that at this point I'm not really concentrating on. We’re all waiting to see the rules and regulations, which I think will give us great clarity on your question, and others that have come up. When we get the rules and the regulations I think that will bring a lot of transparency and clarity on these issues.
A year from now, how will you judge whether the council has succeeded?
We’ll be collecting data and analytics, so there's going to be accountability for what we're doing. A year from now, we'll be able to look back and see the people that have benefited, and the communities that have started to revitalize. When I begin to see those things, that'll be a great mark of success.
What’s your takeaway message for OZ investors?
This is a great opportunity — not just to get a monetary return on an investment, but to serve people by using your investment to make a community better. Opportunity zones are a win-win deal. Financially, it’s a win, but from a humanitarian standpoint, it will allow us to revitalize communities, so that people can fulfill their potential, and neighborhoods can begin to thrive again, and dignity and hope can be restored.