The White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council Prioritizes Opportunity Zones Across the Federal Government

Mary Scott Balys

The White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council recently held their first meeting and released their Implementation Plan. The White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council was created by Executive Order 13853 on December 12, 2018. In the Executive Order, President Trump directed Federal agencies to target, streamline, and better coordinate Federal resources for use in Opportunity Zones and other economically distressed communities.

The Council is chaired by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and has recently announced that Scott Turner, a former Member of the Texas House of Representatives and retired NFL player, will serve as the Executive Director. The Council membership includes a broad range of Federal departments and agencies. A full list can be found in the Executive Order establishing the Council, here.

The Implementation Plan establishes five subcommittees focused on:

  • Economic Development
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Safe Neighborhoods
  • Education and Workforce Development
  • Measurement

Each of these subcommittees will be tasked with reporting back on specific action items. All of the work of these subcommittees will be turned into policy recommendations and brought back to the full Council for review. Secretary Carson has announced that the Council will conduct a listening tour in Opportunity Zones and other distressed communities this summer, but a schedule has yet to be released.

Some agencies have already begun to add Opportunity Zone targeting to their various grant applications and others are currently seeking public input on the best ways to address Opportunity Zones. The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently released a request for information asking for input on how they can best restructure their programs to address Opportunity Zones and communities in economic need. The Department of Education is also seeking comments on adding a focus on Opportunity Zones to their charter school funding grant programs.

With all the focus on targeting programs to Opportunity Zones, OFN will be working to ensure that Federal agencies do not forget the 75 percent of eligible low-income census tracts that were not designated as Opportunity Zones and still have significant needs and potential for economic growth and community development.

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