WASHINGTON – A new online tool developed at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business to help economic and community developers in areas identified as Opportunity Zones is being praised by a top official at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The USA Opportunity Zones tool was created by the Indiana Business Research Center at Kelley for the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, which announced the tool’s launch on Jan. 14.
“This new web-based mapping tool will help investors and economic developers target investment toward Opportunity Zones to effect positive, socially-conscious change in these communities,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John Fleming.
It is designed to provide support to the more than 390 EDA-designated Economic Development Districts across the country, as well as those fostering long-term private sector investments in low-income communities in more than 8,700 opportunity zones nationwide. These include 156 Opportunity Zones in Indiana.
The bi-partisan supported Opportunity Zone program was added to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump. It allows states to designate areas with higher-than-average poverty rates or lower-than-average incomes as Opportunity Zones. Investors are permitted reduce their tax liability by putting capital gains into projects in these areas.
Since January 2018, the EDA has invested nearly $347 million in 239 projects in or near Opportunity Zones across the United States.
The map-based tool project is among a vast suite of resources available through the Indiana Business Research Center and its StatsAmerica site, which received support from the Economic Development Administration.
“Like other StatsAmerica tools, the U.S. Opportunity Zones tool is easy to use, with multiple reports from the perspective of the zone itself, the congressional district and the economic development district and state in which it resides,” said Timothy Slaper, co-director of the IBRC. “This will provide unique context to users.”
“With this new tool, we can show the intersection of EDA’s public investments and activities near or within these zones,” said Carol O. Rogers, also a co-director of the IBRC. “As Economic Development Districts develop their new five-year comprehensive economic development strategies them, the integration of opportunity zones as a new investment opportunity will be important.”
For 100 years, the Kelley School of Business has prepared graduates to lead organizations and start companies and shaped business knowledge and policy. The Indiana Business Research Center, established in 1925, provides and interprets the economic information needed by business, government and nonprofit organizations nationwide.