On January 14. 2020, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business announced the launch of the USA Opportunity Zones tool.
This new web-based tool will help more than 390 EDA-designated Economic Development Districts (EDDs) across the nation, as well as local economic and community developers and investors, target private investment to economically-distressed areas where private investment may be eligible for capital gain tax incentives under the bipartisan Opportunity Zones initiative.
“(the) Opportunity Zones initiative is helping drive transformative private investment to some of the nation’s most distressed communities not through a government program, but by providing critical tax incentives to private investors,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John Fleming.
“This new web-based mapping tool will help investors and economic developers target investment toward Opportunity Zones to effect positive, socially-conscious change in these communities,” he explained.
As economic development practitioners build their five-year comprehensive economic development strategies, incorporating Opportunity Zones is a new and promising tool for enabling economic growth.
“This tool links and leverages two EDA initiatives to support private Opportunity Zone investment: the large project-based investments in distressed communities and providing the data, tools and analytical resources for economic development through StatsAmerica,” said Timothy Slaper, co-director of the Indiana Business Research Center at IU’s Kelley School of Business.
“Having private Opportunity Zone investment piggy-back on EDA’s community investment would be a force multiplier,” he added.
There are more than 8760 designated Qualified Opportunity Zones located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five United States territories. Investors can defer tax on prior gains invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF) until the earlier of the date on which the investment in a QOF is sold or exchanged or until December 31, 2026.
Like other StatsAmerica tools, the USA Opportunity Zones tool is easy to use, with multiple reports from the perspective of the zone itself, the congressional district, and the economic development district and state in which it resides. This will provide unique context to users.
The website project is being funded through EDA’s Fiscal Year 2018-2020 Research and National Technical Assistance (RNTA) Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) which makes $1.5 million available for Research and Evaluation (R&E) projects and $1 million available for National Technical Assistance (NTA) projects.
Through the R&E program, EDA supports the development of tools, recommendations, and resources that shape Federal economic development policies and inform economic development decision-making.
Photo of historic 1914 Pennsylvania Railroad Station in Fort Wayne, Indiana is by Smallbones via Wikipedia.