Not Everyone is Fond of “Opportunity Zones”

Not Everyone is Fond of “Opportunity Zones”

Neighborhoods high in poverty, crime and violence have a heck of a time attracting investment. The federal government last year offered an incentive in the form of tax breaks to lure investors to those communities. As part of the tax reform law the government began creating what are called Opportunity Zones- in areas such as Chicago’s Englewood, and West Garfield Park- that allow investors to defer paying taxes on capital gains if they steer those profits into an Opportunity Zone. Yesterday on the show we talked with Michael Episcope. He’s co founder of Chicago based Origin Investments. His company crowdfunded 105 million dollars for a fund that’s aimed at investing in Opportunity Zones. There’s growing interest in this program- from developers to small investors to big institutions like Goldman Sachs. But not everyone is convinced this kind of approach can work. We spoke with two critics. Timothy Weaver is a professor of Urban Policy and Politics at The University at Albany, State University of New York. He recently wrote a piece on the subject for the online site The Conversation. Lyneir Richardson, CEO of Chicago TREND, an economic development effort focused on under served communities, and Executive Director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers University.