Viewpoint: Opportunity Zones: We’re Doing It Wrong

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

By Morgan Simon

Investors have been chomping at the bit ever since the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act launched the Opportunity Zone (OZ) program, designed to bring capital to low-income communities by providing tax benefits to investors. What we are quickly seeing is that capital dropped in a community is not the same as capital designated for community benefit.

When we look at who will ultimately benefit from the wave of OZ investments, the outcome is arguably more weighted towards the financial gain of investors, over the value add for community members. If this prediction is true, then what’s going wrong in the OZ landscape… and can we save it before it’s too late?

Compared to its ancestors Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Zones, Opportunity Zones are massive in scope. While there were 38 Empowerment Zones implemented nationally, governors were recently allowed to designate up to 25% of their low-income census tracts as Opportunity Zones, creating 8,762 OZs thus far.

Photo courtesy of Tanner Boriack.

Source: Forbes (link opens in a new window)

public policy, urban development