Opportunity Zones

A new national community investment tool that connects private capital with low-income communities across America

The State of Socioeconomic Need and Community Change in Opportunity Zones

HISTORY OF OPPORTUNITY ZONES: 

Opportunity Zones were conceived as an innovative approach to spurring long-term private sector investments in low-income communities nationwide.  

The Opportunity Zones provision is based on the bipartisan Investing in Opportunity Act, which was championed by Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Ron Kind (D-WI), who led a regionally and politically diverse coalition of nearly 100 congressional cosponsors.

The concept was originally introduced in a 2015 paper, “Unlocking Private Capital to Facilitate Economic Growth in Distressed Areas,” to help address the persistent poverty and uneven recovery that left too many American communities behind. The idea has since been championed by a wide-ranging coalition of investors, entrepreneurs, community developers, economists, and other stakeholders.

WHAT ARE OPPORTUNITY ZONES? 

Opportunity Zones are low income census tracts nominated by governors and certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury into which investors can now put capital to work financing new projects and enterprises in exchange for certain federal capital gains tax advantages. The country now has over 8,700 Opportunity Zones in every state and territory.

WHAT ARE OPPORTUNITY FUNDS?

Opportunity Funds are new private sector investment vehicles that invest at least 90 percent of their capital in qualifying assets in Opportunity Zones. U.S. investors currently hold trillions of dollars in unrealized capital gains  in stocks and mutual funds alone— a significant untapped resource for economic development. Funds will enable a broad array of investors to pool their resources in Opportunity Zones, increasing the scale of investments going to underserved areas.

WHAT ARE THE INCENTIVES THAT ENCOURAGE LONG-TERM INVESTMENT IN LOW INCOME COMMUNITIES? 

Opportunity Zones offer investors the following incentives for putting their capital to work in low-income communities:

  • A temporary tax deferral for capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund. The deferred gain must be recognized on the earlier of the date on which the opportunity zone investment is sold or December 31, 2026.
  • A step-up in basis for capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund. The basis of the original investment is increased by 10% if the investment in the qualified opportunity zone fund is held by the taxpayer for at least 5 years, and by an additional 5% if held for at least 7 years, excluding up to 15% of the original gain from taxation.
  • A permanent exclusion from taxable income of capital gains from the sale or exchange of an investment in a qualified opportunity zone fund, if the investment is held for at least 10 years. (Note: this exclusion applies to the gains accrued from an investment in an Opportunity Fund, not the original gains).

Read more about why we need new economic development tools targeted at empowering economically distressed communities:

  1. The uneven recovery is leaving too many communities behind. EIG’s research finds that 50 million Americans live in economically distressed communities – places struggling to attract capital and sustain economic opportunity for their residents. The country’s distressed zip codes contained 1.4 million fewer jobs in 2016 than they did in 2007.
  2. New business formation is near its record low. The Great Recession led to a collapse in new business creation so severe that for the first time companies were dying faster than they were being born. The recovery has done little to boost startup rates, which remain particularly depressed in low-income communities. EIG’s research found that the average distressed community saw a six percent decline in local businesses during the prime years of the national economic recovery.
  3. The U.S. economy is increasingly dependent on a handful of places for growth. As the economy struggles to regain its lost dynamism, most metro areas are seeing more local businesses close than open every year. In fact, EIG’s research finds that five metro areas alone produced the as many new businesses as the rest of the country combined from 2010 to 2014.
Previous Testimonial

Creating a stronger, fairer New Jersey begins with expanding opportunity equally across all communities; the Opportunity Zone Program will be a vital resource in stimulating long-term economic growth and investment in cities and towns that need it most, and more importantly, in generating economic opportunities for our residents.

Phil Murphy

Governor of New Jersey

We focused on local, regional, and state priorities, as well as Virginia’s diverse geography and economic opportunities, to strategically select a balance of zones that align with other state and local economic development and revitalization efforts. My administration is committed to maximizing this important federal tool to strengthen our local and state economic development efforts and ensure Virginia is at the forefront of attracting new Opportunity fund investments.

Ralph Northam

Governor of Virginia

Opportunity Zones are an exciting new tool for building economic development in underserved communities. These grants will help guide us as we implement the program to maximize the benefits of job creation and neighborhood improvement in the most vulnerable areas of our city.

Keisha Lance-Bottoms

Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia

My administration believes that Opportunity Zones can only work to revitalize our neighborhoods when local knowledge, creativity and ingenuity are harnessed to invest in the quality of life of our residents. That is why we are setting a goal to train 500 Birmingham residents on Opportunity Zones by summer 2020 so that residents can identify and shape projects throughout our city.

Randall Woodfin

Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama

We are honored to be recognized as a national leader in Opportunity Zones. With 126 designated zones that span the state, Colorado’s Opportunity Zones are attracting capital to our state, helping to grow our economy and supporting our rural communities. I’m proud of all the hard work so many have done to ensure Colorado leads the way in deploying this compelling federal tax incentive.

Jared Polis

Governor of Colorado

These Opportunity Zone designations will help build on our ongoing community development efforts and encourage additional private investment where it can have the most impact – in economically-distressed communities.

John Carney

Governor, Delaware

By investing $12 million in Rebuild Illinois funds in Opportunity Zone projects, we can take advantage of this federal tax incentive to stretch our capital dollars further while creating jobs and opportunities in communities that have suffered from a lack of investment for decades.

J.B. Pritzker

Governor of Illinois

Opportunity Zones have the potential to generate the kind of economic activity that can transform lower-income areas across our state. Our economic developers, local governments and investment professionals are well-positioned to put this program to work for Louisiana.

John Bel Edwards

Governor of Louisiana

We plan to do everything in our power to utilize new and existing state and federal programs, grants and funding sources, and to have all of our state agencies work collaboratively with our county and municipal governments and the private sector to supercharge our opportunity zone revitalization. Our plan is to make Maryland’s 149 opportunity zones the most competitive ones in America.

Larry Hogan

Governor of Maryland

The opportunity zone program helps leverage private investment in Massachusetts cities and towns and can be a catalyst for job creation and economic activity.

Charlie Baker

Governor of Massachusetts

If we want to call Michigan a successful state, we’ve got to expand opportunities for business owners in our opportunity zones. I’m confident that the cabinet I put together will partner with Michigan business owners and ensure they have the resources they need to create more good-paying jobs. This executive directive will take a much-needed step toward building vibrant communities here in Michigan.

Gretchen Whitmer

Governor of Michigan

The Opportunity Zones program provides Minnesota a great opportunity to work with local community leaders and our federal partners to build upon that important work and improve people’s lives.

Mark Dayton

Former Governor of Minnesota

One of the goals of my administration is to spread investment to all corners of New Mexico and we want to use every tool we can to accomplish that. That’s why we are going ‘all in’ for Opportunity Zones and giving an extra boost to help these communities.

Michelle Lujan Grisham

Governor of New Mexico

These Opportunity Zones and the funds that support them will provide access to capital in low-income communities that otherwise may not attract it. It’s another tool to help cities reach their full potential and create healthy, vibrant communities that can attract and retain a 21st-century workforce.

Doug Burgum

Governor of North Dakota

Communities nationwide are competing for private investment in their Opportunity Zones, and we want to give Ohio communities the edge. This will make it more attractive for investors to direct their investments here.

Mike DeWine

Governor of Ohio

Our goal is economic prosperity for all Utahns. Opportunity Zones will go a long way in helping to support growth in economically-distressed areas throughout the state.

Gary Herbert

Governor of Utah

We are focused on leveraging the Opportunity Zones incentive to create new jobs, amenities, and economic opportunities for DC neighborhoods that need them most. With the OZ Marketplace and Community Corps, we are providing existing residents and small businesses owners with the expertise and platforms they need to navigate potential Opportunity Zone transactions.

Muriel Bowser

Mayor of Washington, D.C.

From the City of Pawtucket’s perspective, without those types of opportunity zones and the [tax-increment financing] district legislation, we would be sitting here as we have for the last twenty something years in Pawtucket without these types of developments.

Don Grebien

Mayor of Pawtucket, Rhode Island

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