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According to a progress report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), the federal Opportunity Zones (OZ) initiative, which was enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, has created approximately a half a million jobs and attracted billions in capital investments.

The OZ incentive was created to stimulate economic development and job creation in distressed low-income communities by incentivizing long-term capital investment. The incentive offers capital gains tax relief to those who invest in these targeted distressed areas. There are more than 8,700 census tracts designated as OZs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories.

For its progress report, the CEA examined OZ investments and activities through the end of 2019. Highlights include:

  • Through the end of 2019, OZs have attracted $75 billion in capital investments. According to the report, this figure represents 21% of all annual investment in OZ communities.
  • At least 500,000 new jobs have been created by OZ investments in designated tracts.
  • Private equity investments in OZ businesses grew 29% relative to a comparable set of businesses not in OZs from the second quarter of 2018 to the fourth quarter of 2019.
  • An OZ designation alone has increased private property values in designated areas by 1.1%.
  • OZ investments are expected to lift approximately 1 million Americans from poverty, with the poverty rate in OZs anticipated to decrease by 11%.

“The CEA report proves that the OZ tax incentive’s focus on job growth, rewarding employment, and removing bureaucratic middlemen is lifting millions out of poverty and revitalizing communities that haven’t seen investment in decades,” said Brooke Rollins, acting domestic policy council director.

In addition to the report, President Trump issued an executive order Aug. 24 that instructs federal agencies to prioritize the location of facilities in distressed areas, including OZs.