Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Chairman of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council (Council), delivered a report this month to President Donald J. Trump outlining Opportunity Zone best practices and examples of revitalization occurring across the Nation. On December 12, 2018, President Trump established the Council to support the Administration's pledge to encourage public and private investment in urban and economically distressed areas, including Opportunity Zones. Since the Council's one-year report was issued in December of 2019, the Council has taken approximately 80 additional action items-for a total of more than 270-to promote the mission of Opportunity Zones.
"On behalf of the Council, we are pleased to issue this report, which includes case studies and best practices observed by the Council across the country," said Council leadership in the report to the President. "There are inspiring stories happening in real time, with action being taken by State governments, local governments, Qualified Opportunity Funds, public-private partnerships, and others to spur revitalizing investments in the areas of most need. This report will prove to be especially helpful and encouraging to communities as they continue to admirably fight the invisible enemy known as COVID-19."
The report identifies legislation and executive actions that States have taken to aid the Federal Opportunity Zones mission. The report further discusses the efforts of State agencies to become involved in the Opportunity Zones space, including through contests and competitions, and outlines ways that State-specific actions regarding Opportunity Zones have created certainty and stability for investors. The second section also features examples of State websites that offer a "matchmaking service" between investors and entrepreneurs in Opportunity Zones. Each State's Opportunity Zones-related website link can be found on the homepage of the "OpportunityZones.gov" website.
The report offers examples of national foundations with billions of dollars in assets that provide support to Opportunity Zone communities and investors who seek to make a positive social and economic impact. It also offers examples of charitable organizations that are focused on issues within the Council's work streams-issues like reentry for those who have served time in prison; housing affordability for those who are cost-burdened; and mentorship for at-risk youth.
The third section also highlights best practices of private financial institutions that have devoted considerable resources towards establishing unique and innovative tools that can help drive investment in Opportunity Zones and benefit communities across economically distressed areas, whether they be rural, urban, suburban, or tribal. For example, MasterCard's Center for Inclusive Growth has developed a toolkit that reveals insights into the current state and potential for inclusive growth in Opportunity Zones across the country. Likewise, Citi has launched a data-driven platform to support Opportunity Zone investments by aggregating key social information about different Opportunity Zones. The report also references the teams that competed in the Opportunity Zones component of the 2019 Opportunity Project sprints, an initiative of the U.S. Census Bureau.