Opportunity Zones: A Vital Community Development Tool or A Tax Windfall For Rich? By William Reed


In their passion to defy and defeat President Donald Trump Black Americans have become so political over mainstream issues like whether or not to sit Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court that we lose sight of what is happening where we live.  Urban community and political leaders should take note of the newest tool for steering investment into overlooked urban areas.  We can use the energy of Black activists to make Opportunity Zones a reality.  Opportunity Zones are a new community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income communities.

The U.S. Opportunity Zone EXPO 2018 is happening Wednesday, October 17th at the Washington Times Arbor Ballroom 3600 New York Avenue Northeast.  While Black partisans ride their party’s anger on newscasts Opportunity Zones has the potential to become the nation’s largest economic development program.  It’s the place to link with private and public sector people.  Supporters believe that this ultimately, this can become a vital tool for communities that haven’t benefited from the recent recovery.  The Commerce and HUD Departments’ deputy assistant secretaries will be participating,    White House Policy Tax Advisory Council, Harry Alford-Chairman, Nat. Black Chamber of Commerce, National Association. of Investment Companies and Nat. Org. of Black Elected Legislative Women will be those cutting the pie.  The program, which is championed by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC), provides tax benefits and breaks to specifically defined census tracks. Investors can claim breaks on capital gains taxes, depending on how long they invest in an area designated as an Opportunity Zone, and receive a deferment on taxes owed.

This is a great opportunity for people to move the needle in terms of affordable housing, and create a national model for how to develop high-end condominiums, luxury apartments, high-rise hotels, towering office buildings and chic retail and restaurants are being built and delivered especially in Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest D.C.  But that’s not all these neighborhoods have. They also have pockets of opportunity.  These neighborhoods, specifically Wards 5, 6, 7 and 8, are under a federal program designed to bring investment and development into the region — and savvy investors and city officials are working together to spark economic discussions activity.  The Opportunity Zones tax incentive was included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act President Donald Trump signed into law in December 2018. But the idea stems from a 2015 white paper from the Economic Innovation Group, a D.C.-based think tank that is now working closely with states to help implement the program.   On April 20, Mayor Bowser nominated 25 census tracts to be Opportunity Zones.

As much as Black activists gather at the Supreme Court the Washington DC Opportunity Expo is the place people thinking about the future to be.  The program is expected to cost the government $7.7 billion between 2018 and 2022, and $1.6 billion over 10 years.   Concerned  people need to get  aboard this program either, alone or with a partner now.   The  program gives a (potentially large) tax break to people who invest capital gains—profit they earn from the sale of assets—in distressed areas.

For much of the country’s history, formal and explicit racial restrictions prevented people of color from accessing the mainstays of economic life, including employment and home-ownership. Only 14 percent of blacks own some stocks or mutual fund shares.  They should build wealth through partnerships. Black business matters, Black America needs more investment.  Blacks should take this opportunity to attend this event to network and gain basic partnerships,

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via

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