On April 17, ABC joined state, local, tribal and community leaders in attending the White House Opportunity Zones Conference. More than 170 people from across the nation attended.
Opportunity Zones were established under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to incentivize long-term investments in low-income communities across the country by offering capital gains tax relief to investors. According to the White House, Opportunity Zones are anticipated to spur $100 billion in private capital investment, which will foster economic revitalization and job creation and promote sustainable economic growth. More than 8,760 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories have been designated as Opportunity Zones.
The conference kicked off with remarks from federal leaders including U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, whose agencies unveiled updated guidance to encourage investment and development in economically distressed areas. (For more information about challenges and opportunities for contractors, read Construction Executive magazine’s coverage, “How the Construction Industry Can Take Advantage of Opportunity Zones.”)
During his remarks, President Donald Trump highlighted the tax cuts he signed into law and the growing economy. “Across the country, our tax cuts have kicked off a race to invest in Opportunity Zones beyond anything that anybody in this room even thought. In counties with heavy concentration of Opportunity Zones, wages have risen by now—it seems that we were talking about 8%, but it looks like it’s going to be a much higher number than that.”
“Property sale prices in Opportunity Zones, if you have a home, have already skyrocketed by more than 20%. Secretary Mnuchin estimates that private businesses will invest $100 billion in Opportunity Zones, and that’s going to be in a fairly short period of time,” said Trump.
The president also discussed the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, which he recently established to provide further support to Opportunity Zones. The council is chaired by Secretary Carson and comprised of 16 federal agencies.
In addition to remarks from federal leaders, attendees listened to a panel discussion with federal, state and community leaders and participated in breakout sessions.
Additional information from federal agencies can be found here:
• Opportunity Zones resources
• IRS frequently asked questions on Opportunity Zones
• White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council Implementation Plan
• U.S. Department of Treasury proposed regulations
• HUD request for information