Overview of EPA's Work Supporting Opportunity Zones
What is an Opportunity Zone?
Qualified Opportunity Zones are census tracts of low-income and distressed communities designated by state governors and certified by the Department of Treasury. These are areas where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. As of April 2019, there were more than 8,700 designated Qualified Opportunity Zones located in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and five United States territories. Nearly 35 million Americans live in communities designated as Qualified Opportunity Zones. Learn more about Opportunity Zones by visiting the federal Opportunity Zones website.
What is EPA's role with Opportunity Zones?
EPA is a member of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, which was formed to better coordinate Federal economic development resources in Opportunity Zones and other distressed communities. The Council is exploring the ways in which Federal agencies can better partner with Opportunity Zone investors and provide some of the social services and other support that may be necessary for community revitalization to take place.
EPA grant programs and other financing, technical assistance, tools, and publications can help communities ensure that new investment brings environmental and public health benefits, in addition to economic revitalization. EPA can help Opportunity Zone communities by:
- Helping communities find EPA financing and federal investment streams that overlap with Opportunity Zone areas to make the most of Opportunity Funds.
- Encouraging communities to identify which projects and business ventures could benefit from investors and Opportunity Funds that are available in their jurisdictions.
- Connecting community leaders with local, state, and federal partners to leverage programs, resources, and existing infrastructure in support of local goals that create healthy, equitable, walkable neighborhoods with a mix of uses.
- Identifying existing plans supported by EPA or other federal partners and created by communities that are in Opportunity Zones that can help inform local economic development discussions.
- Providing information to help areas in non-attainment for any of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards take steps towards coming back into attainment, which could make Opportunity Zones in those areas more attractive for economic development.