Wednesday, February 14, 2018

President Trump hosted a meeting of local leaders and investors at the White House Wednesday to call attention to a feature in his tax-cut law that encourages private investment in distressed communities.

The programs target “opportunity zones” in all 50 states where investors will qualify for lower capital-gains tax rates and the ability to pool their money in “opportunity funds” to spend on projects in blighted or under-served communities.

Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican who pushed the initiative, credited Mr. Trump’s support with getting it included in the tax reform package.

“Now we are sitting on opportunity, I think it’s a goldmine,” Mr. Scott said. “A goldmine for so many kids, and so many communities that thus far have not had the access to opportunities.”

The president said of the measure, “It’s going to be a great chance…a great opportunity.”

Among others attending the meeting were Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump, who praised the initiative.

“You’re creating an incentive to bring capital into communities that are currently being overlooked,” Ms. Trump said.

Governors will designate the opportunity zones; the White House estimated that about 41,000 census tracts with a total population of about 52 million around the U.S. are eligible for the funds.

The White House said the zones exist “to fund new and small businesses, develop blighted properties, invest in key local infrastructure projects, finance facility construction or refurbishment,” among other activities.

Mayor Kenny Alexander of Norfolk, Virginia, told the president there was a segment of “high poverty” in his city and he was “looking forward” to learning more about the opportunity zones.

“This is a great opportunity,” Mr. Alexander said.

Steve Case, Chairman and CEO of Revolution, said of the program, “We have to level the playing so that everybody everywhere really feels like they have a shot at the American dream, we can only do that if we ensure that capital really flows everywhere.”

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