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Opportunity Zones Will Only Enrich Investors if There's Not Concerted Push for Equity

By Sam Allard, Scene magazine

Investors nationwide are rubbing their hands together as they wait for a full set of rules from the U.S. Treasury regarding Opportunity Zones, the new Federal tax incentive that targets high-poverty census tracts for economic development. Investors will be able to postpone or forego capital gains taxes if they invest those gains in the zones, or else put that money into "Opportunity Funds" created for such investments.

In Cleveland, a cohort of leaders are trying to ensure that the majority of these dollars don't flow into already prosperous areas. Parts of Tremont, Ohio City, Downtown and University Circle are among the local designated Opportunity Zones. They were selected based on input from the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and a handful of local economic development organizations, including the Greater Cleveland Partnership and the Fund for Our Economic Future.

The think tank Policy Matters Ohio, in a report published this week, said that the tax incentive might enhance poor communities, but unless the program is implemented carefully, it could also increase inequality.

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