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EDA Focuses in On Qualified Opportunity Zones

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Today, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) is encouraging its economic development partners to think of Opportunity Zone investment as a new arrow in their quiver to not only to enhance ROI for business interests, but also to encourage the public/private partnerships needed to drive private investment to distressed areas.

Created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Opportunity Zones tax incentive is designed to spur economic development and job creation by encouraging investors to fund new businesses, develop properties, and finance construction in struggling communities in distressed areas.

As the only federal government agency focused exclusively on economic development, the EDA is in a unique position to meet both the economic and social impact goals of the Opportunity Zone program.

Guided by the basic principle that sustainable economic development should be locally-driven, EDA works directly with communities and regions to help them build the capacity for economic development based on local business conditions and needs.

Critically, EDA has taken an important step in its 2018 Notice of Funding Opportunity for Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs to open EDA funds to eligible entities within Qualified Opportunity Zones.

The agency has already seen communities across the country utilize this eligibility category when applying for EDA grants.

Since FY 2018, EDA has invested more than $13 million in 22 projects in Opportunity Zones to help communities and regions build the capacity for economic development.

Recent EDA investment in opportunity zones include:

  • A $2.5 million grant to the city of Dubuque, Iowa, to help protect local businesses from flooding by replacing existing flood infrastructure and to attract more investment to a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone.
  • A $1.5 million grant to the city of Durant, Oklahoma, to make critical water infrastructure improvements needed to support business expansion in the region. The investment will bring new growth to a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act-designated Opportunity Zone and, according to grantee estimates, is expected to create 73 jobs and spur $12 million in private investment.

In addition to grant making, EDA’s role as an integrator of Federal economic development resources allows the agency to help customers – whether EDA grantees or other partners – leverage the Federal assets that our communities and regions need to produce impactful economic development projects.

This assistance can be especially valuable to communities as they work to attract private investment in Opportunity Zones.

Please visit the Commerce Department’s website, or contact the EDA Regional Office serving your state or territory, to learn more about how the President’s Opportunity Zones Program can create incentives to bring capital into your regions.

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