Sen. Perdue & Sec. Carson Op-Ed: Opportunity Zones are Lifting Georgians Out of Poverty

Secretary Ben Carson, Sen. David Perdue

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

From day one of his Administration, President Trump, Congressional Republicans, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have been working hard to bring economic prosperity to America’s forgotten neighborhoods. No program has generated more success towards these efforts than the President’s Opportunity Zone initiative. 

Opportunity Zones are a powerful vehicle for bringing economic growth and job creation to the American communities that need them most. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act established Opportunity Zones to incentivize long-term investments in low-income communities nationwide. These incentives offer capital gains tax relief for new investment in designated Opportunity Zones.

Last month, the Council of Economic Advisers released a report detailing the successes we’re already seeing across America. The Council found that in just two years Opportunity Zones have driven $75 billion in new investments to distressed American communities. These new investments will lift at least one million Americans out of poverty, decreasing the poverty rate in Opportunity Zones – which is nearly twice the national average – by 11 percent. 

What does that mean for all Americans? One million more of our neighbors, friends, and family members will have more access to affordable housing, a steady job, and an overall improved quality of life. 

Georgia’s 260 Opportunity Zones are also seeing that prosperity. Recently, we had the privilege of visiting the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RCIE). Located in an Opportunity Zone, the Russell Center assists African American entrepreneurs by providing workspace, networking opportunities, and educational resources. In 2019, RCIE converted a 43,000 square foot corporate headquarters into space for 100 emerging entrepreneurial companies. RCIE’s work efforts are a testament to the work that the private sector can do without the weight of a heavy-handed government. 

Incentivizing investment in low-income communities fosters economic revitalization, job creation, and promotes sustainable economic growth across the nation. RCIE’s mission echoes that of Opportunity Zones, as they set out to strengthen and uplift the same people President Trump pledged would “no longer be forgotten.” 

Regulatory barriers and high taxes stifle the American economy – and the poorest among us pay the price. I can think of no better place to see the fruits of these labors than the great state of Georgia. I am encouraged by the force of positive change happening here in Atlanta as a result of the Opportunity Zones initiative. 

Under President Trump, there is a rising economic tide, and it is lifting all boats.