Studies examine Opportunity Zones impact

The public policy organization Economic Innovation Group (EIG) has released findings from two studies focusing on the impact of Opportunity Zones (OZs) on the nation’s underserved communities.

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Per the EIG, the findings stem from a November 2022 research paper authored by two U.S. Department of the Treasury economists using preliminary IRS data for tax years 2018 through 2020 to provide a survey of the amount and reach of early OZ investment; and a November 2022 working paper by University of California-Berkeley economist Harrison Wheeler, uses building permits data to document whether the incentive elicited a development response in and around communities designated as Opportunity Zones.

The EIG indicated study findings determined by the end of 2020, $48 billion had been invested in nearly 4,000 opportunity zones in each state – bolstering commercial and residential development, as well as housing supply and values.

The analysis cited Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) efforts to provide tax incentives for investments in designated OZs in conjunction with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, officials noted.

“Opportunity Zones embody the good work leaders can do for communities across the country when government gets out of the way and allows us to work together,” Scott said. “Investments in these underserved areas make a huge impact on communities – to the tune of billions of dollars. I’ll never stop fighting to build on the incredible work this program has done and help create a better future for all Americans.”

According to the EIG, other study findings include OZ investment reaching approximately 3,800 communities from mid-2018 through 2020, representing nearly half of the total number of designated OZ communities nationwide; and OZ investment is going to communities substantially more economically distressed than the rest of the country.