Making the Most of 'Opportunity Zones'
A product of the GOP's 2017 tax reform bill, the federal Opportunity Zones program proposes to aid "struggling communities" (though there's been some debate on that score) by enabling greater redevelopment investment in specific census tracts. Here, Bruce Katz discusses why the program could spark more comprehensive research into how specific investments impact and interact with their wider environs.
Katz points to some of the common designations for urban districts: central business districts, anchor districts, residential areas, and the like. "For urban officials, practitioners, researchers or residents themselves, these archetypes are so settled that they rarely elicit discussion or debate. Yet the Opportunity Zone tax incentive enables us to think about each of these distinct areas as possible asset classes or investment sectors."
The Opportunity Zone framework, Katz says, is one way to see past the compartmentalization of urban finance. "At a minimum, the creation of Zone typologies could help motivate major institutions within different kinds of Opportunity Zones to consider how to realize their full economic impact."