CHARLOTTE — President Donald Trump recently visited Charlotte for the Opportunity Now Summit.
“Today, we’re launching a brand-new nationwide campaign to revitalize underserved cities and towns all across America. It’s called ‘Opportunity Now.’ Opportunity Now. It’s a big deal,” President Trump said in his remarks.
The Summit took place Friday, Feb. 7 and featured President Trump’s Opportunity Zone program, which provides tax incentives to businesses that invest in economically distressed areas. The program, which was spearheaded by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), seeks to support economic revitalization and job creation in these zones with an eye towards sustainable economic growth across the country.
“Unemployment claims in North Carolina are down 30 percent since the election and have fallen to their lowest level ever recorded,” said President Trump at the Summit. “Pretty good. And we’re here in Charlotte to expand and grow this unprecedented economic momentum that we have going all over the country. You’re having the best year you’ve ever had in this state, by far.”
The President said his administration will hold similar summits in other areas of the country to promote the program which was part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in 2017. The program details that the governors of each state will lay out a list of Opportunity Zones locations where they believe the program would be of best use.
In attendance at the summit were various officials from the Trump Administration including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza, and Scott Turner, the Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council.
The average poverty rate in an Opportunity Zone is over 32 percent when compared with a rate of 17 percent for the average United States census tract, according to a statement issued by the White House.
In addition, the average median family income in an Opportunity Zone is 37 percent below the median for the state in which it resides. An estimated 35 million Americans live in areas designated as Opportunity Zones.
Several members of the North Carolina Congressional delegation were also on hand, as well as Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.
“I thank President Trump for visiting North Carolina and for his work to bring opportunity to all Americans,” said Forest. “I look forward to working with the president to bring new jobs, hope and opportunity to ever North Carolina ZIP code.”
Under the program, each state can designate up to 25 percent of its low-income census tracts as potential Opportunity Zone candidates. North Carolina has 252 Opportunity Zones with at least one in each of the state’s 100 counties. These zones were certified by the U.S. Treasury in May of 2018.
“All North Carolinians deserve their shot at realizing the American Dream, and Opportunity Zones are already making an impact by tackling poverty and investing in communities to promote development and economic prosperity,” said Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC).
According to the White House, Opportunity Zones are expected to spur upwards of $100 billion in private capital investment.
“Instead of using unwieldy bureaucratic programs, President Trump’s tax incentives for ‘Opportunity Zones’ harness capitalism to increase investment in low-income areas,” said Rep. Dan Bishop (R- NC), who represents the Charlotte area.
Charlotte has 17 Opportunity Zones and is the location for the upcoming Republican National Convention in August. Areas in Charlotte will get a boost from the investment and revitalized communities could see a reduction in homelessness and increase in job opportunities.
The tax incentives provided under the program are meant to target low-income areas where the poverty rate is 20 percent or greater and/or family income is less than 80% of the area’s median income.
“After six years of fighting for economic development and opportunity, North Carolina is now reaping the benefits of our booming economy,” Rep. Walker said. “We are focused on leaving no North Carolina community behind.”
Opportunity Zones offer three tax incentives to encourage investment in low-income communities including temporary tax deferral for capital gains, step-up in basis for capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund, and permanent exclusion from taxable income of long-term capital gains.
According to the fact sheet for the program, the incentives are “tied to the longevity of an investor’s stake in a qualified Opportunity Fund, providing the most upside to those who hold their investment for 10 years or more.”