White House launches ‘opportunity zones’ website

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Trump administration is rolling out a new website to educate the public about “opportunity zones.”

The designation is given to distressed and low-income areas where tax incentives are available to encourage development of homes, businesses and jobs.

“This may be the crown jewel of the president’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” Joe Grogan, President Donald Trump’s domestic policy director, said of the program. “There are tens of millions and hundreds of millions of dollars being devoted to individual projects across the country.”

He said opportunity zones are transforming thousands of neighborhoods across the country into centers of economic growth. The new website is aimed at helping those in opportunity zones take advantage of the tax breaks.

But critics says such tax policies generally help only the wealthy.

‘The track record is not good,” Gregory Squires, a public policy professor at George Washington University in D.C., said. “When they (businesses) come, they often don’t create the jobs that are promised. The jobs that they often do create often are not for people who in the neighborhoods.”

He urged community organizers to keep their eye on the money to ensure investments help community members, not just developers.

“I do think that it’s important to have the pressure from the bottom up,” he said.

Grogan said the new website won’t include details about each investment, but that the White House is committed to making sure opportunity zones are a success for everyone.

“We’re bringing people off the sidelines,” he said.

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