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Opportunity Zones Provide Potential for Small Businesses and Communities

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access heard from a panel of investment and policy experts on the potential benefits and improvements for the opportunity zone program as it relates to small businesses.

“As a way to jumpstart economically distressed areas of the nation, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included a provision to authorize the opportunity zones program.  This program provides stepped-up tax enhancements for individuals that reinvest their capital gains in targeted economic areas,” said Ranking Member Kevin Hern (R-OK).  “With the program in its infancy, we need more information on how investments are being shaped and how dollars are flowing to projects.  This information will be critical as we assess its effectiveness.”

Opportunity Zone Specialist Provides Background on Program

Describing the process by which opportunity zones are different than previous federal programs for investment in economically distressed areas, Mr. John Lettieri, President and Chief Executive Officer, Economic Innovation Group, in Washington, DC said, “…The Opportunity Zones incentive is a sharp departure from past precedent in its scope, flexibility, and structure… Unlike most other federal programs, this incentive can be used in a variety of ways, making it a potentially important and creative tool for financing a range of economic priorities across many different types of communities.”

Mr. Lettieri also stressed the need for community involvement in the opportunity zone process.  “You don’t just look at the federal incentive, you look at what are communities actually doing.  Let’s not ignore the fact that states and localities have a vast toolkit of policy and regulatory tools.  There are local anchor institutions and partners and philanthropies that can play a part and we can’t judge a place that had none of those assets activated in the same way that we judge a place that had all of those assets activated on behalf of their opportunity zone strategies,” said Mr. Lettieri.

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