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AMOD: What are Opportunity Zones and have they Improved Black Lives as President Trump Claims! How do they Differ from Empowerment Zones?

Controversial Content
Added: Saturday, August 1st 2020 at 1:14pm by AMODPOVW
Category: News & Issues
Related Tags: economy


When President Trump provides the American People with an explanation of what he has done to improve the lives of Black Americans he will often speak about his creation of something called "Opportunity Zones".  These OZ's have according to President Trump done wonders to improve the lives of Inner City African Americans.  He routinely attributes the decline in Black Unemployment numbers to these Opportunity Zones.  

In an effort to better understand the disconnect between President Trump and his supporters and those in the Black Community who say things have not gotten any better, I decided to do some research on these Opportunity Zones!  I was familiar with the "Empowerment Zones" created during the Clinton and Bush era's, but this Opportunity Zone thing was new to me.  Let's start with some definitions:

Opportunity Zones are economically distressed communities, defined by individual census tract, nominated by America’s governors, and certified by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury via his delegation of that authority to the Internal Revenue Service. Under certain conditions, new investments in Opportunity Zones may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. There are 8,764 Opportunity Zones in the United States, many of which have experienced a lack of investment for decades. The Opportunity Zones initiative is not a top-down government program from Washington but an incentive to spur private and public investment in America’s underserved communities.

An empowerment zone is an economically distressed community eligible to receive tax incentives and grants from the United States federal government under the Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities Act of 1993.  

An enterprise zone is a bounded geographical area, such as a neighborhood within a city, where a government authority grants special tax or regulatory exemptions in order to promote local economic development. They may also be established to promote development in previously low-income or derelict segments of a city for purposes of revitalization.

So let's keep this short and sweet...Opportunity Zones are as the definition says, bottom up attempts to improve economic onditions in a distressed community.  OZ's require a Private Firm to decide to invest a portion of its Capital Gains for a specific period into a Project or Business in that Zone.  As a result the Business can defer tax payments on that Capital Gain for a specific period.  In layman terms.....A Corporation can take its Profit line and defer the taxes on that profit if it invest that profit into some business or project in that OZ!

OZ's are a win/win situation for Corporations that invest in these OZ's.  Senators Tim Scott and Corey Booker who both endorsed the idea of OZ's have mixed opinions about the success of the program.  But it should be noted, that Inner Cities are not the only benefactors of OZ's.  As a matter of fact, the Keystone OZ is a mult-state Opportunity Zone that is doing work in the Rust Belt, very far from the Inner City!


In Maryland the OZ's sponsored by the State list opportunities for Investment and the ceilings for those Investments...but its hard to find any fruitful results from those Investments in the Inner City of Baltimore or Annapolis, two of our major cities.


It should be noted that the biggest difference between OZ's and Empowerment and Enterprize Zones is that EMZ's and ENZ's are top down.  The government provides Grants to varies qualified enitites to create opportunities in distressed communities that result in improvement in the life styles of that community.

There are many Oz's that are operational throughout this country, and the appear to be doing some good in the areas that they exist....but I could find no data that clearly expresses that OZ's have drastically improved the welfare or employment conditions of Blacks in the Inner City....which again is a constant claim of the Trump Adminstration.

On the other hand Empowerment Zones did have a proven record of improving conditions in many Inner Cities, but they were expensive and were prone to abuse!

If anyone can provide information to show where OZ's have drastically improved conditions of Inner City Blacks I will be glad to add it to this post!

User Comments

I've never heard of OZ. It seems to me giving some of those government contracts to African American companies in struggling towns may also be a workable solution.

writer...sorry I missed your comment!!  Look you hit the nail on the head!  This OZ thing is not as impressive a deal as some people try to make it out to be.

The Corporation that donates to the OZ or invest in the OZ needs to give it like you say to some Black Small Businesses in struggling towns, but that does not appear to be what is happening!

Empowerment Zones were government grants and they had EEO requirements...these OZ's are private companies and have no EEO requirements...do you see the catch!{#basic-mouth-shut.gif}

I am doing some research for the script I'm writing and one of the things they did back in the 70s with government contracts for minorities was to list White women under minorities. They end up getting a lot of the contracts that would have gone to Blacks. 

OMG writer you are so correct on that!!!

The Department of Transportation for some reason was the controlling Agency for Minority Contracts.  Under the Affirmative Action Laws....White Women were considered a Minority and definitely slipped in and got lots of contracts under Affirmative Action!!

Try to tell someone today that White Women benefited more from Affirmative Action than Blacks and they will look at you like you had two heads!{#basic-laugh.gif}


Yep, they did, but most White folks today are probably not aware of it.

They definitely are not!!!!{#basic-laugh.gif}

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