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Spotlight: Celebrating the Economic Impact of Opportunity Zones Across the U.S.

EDA is proud of its role in bolstering the American economy through its Opportunity Zones work. To date, EDA has invested more than $750 million in more than 500 Opportunity Zone projects across the country.

Created by President Donald J. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones are spurring economic development and job growth in economically-distressed communities across the country.

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President Trump Discussing Opportunity Zones at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, DC

More than 35 million Americans live in the nearly 9,000 Opportunity Zones (PDF), which Governors identified and the Department of the Treasury certified, throughout the U.S. and its territories.

In August 2020, the White House Council of Economic Advisors issued The Impact of Opportunity Zones: An Initial Assessment Report (PDF), highlighting that Opportunity Zones are on track to create 500,000 jobs and lift one million people out of poverty. As of the end of 2019, Opportunity Zones have attracted over $78 billion in investments in underserved communities.

The initiative speaks directly to EDA’s work on the ground, as both EDA and Opportunity Zones are focused on driving transformative private investment into distressed communities.

In August, EDA announced a mile-marker of more than $500 million in nearly 400 projects in or near Opportunity Zones. The occasion was celebrated by announcing a $4.4 million EDA investment with the Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council (WHORC), Mr. Scott Turner at an event in Baxter, Tennessee.

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Dana Gartzke and WHORC Executive Director Scott Turner with Baxter City officials, Baxter, Tennessee

In May 2020, the WHORC Report to President Trump prominently featured EDA’s Opportunity Zone policy actions and investments, highlighting how our grantees and others are capitalizing on the initiative to spur transformative economic development in their communities and regions.

EDA continues to encourage state and local governments to seek ways to maximize and market their Opportunity Zones to further attract public and private investments. These investments not only enhance ROI for businesses, but they also encourage the public/private partnerships needed to drive private investment to distressed areas.

On October 20, EDA awarded a nearly $400,000 grant to the Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah and the Utah Association of Counties to create a Rural Opportunity Zone and Recovery Playbook that will support local efforts to drive capital investment into Utah communities. This EDA grant, to serve 16 Utah Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zones, will be matched with $150,000 in state investment to create a broad-based recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. When completed, the Rural Opportunity Zone Playbook will be available to rural communities across the country to modify and utilize to meet their unique needs.

EDA remains committed to making the Opportunity Zones initiative a success. Last year, EDA added Opportunity Zones as one of its five Investment Priorities to help significantly increase the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects we can fund.

For more information on EDA’s role, please visit our Opportunity Zones webpage.

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