Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Opportunity Zones Executive Order Signing
Washington, D.C., White House,
December 12, 2018
As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.
Thank you, Mr. President, for that introduction, and to all for joining us today for this very important Executive Order signing.
Today, the nation’s unemployment rate is at a 49-year low. The jobless rate among African-Americans is down to a record low of 5.9 percent. Wages are on the rise. While we can all be very proud of these achievements, one challenge has remained: there are still communities in our country that have seen little or no new investment in generations.
During his inaugural address, President Trump declared that “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” It is critical that every American shares in the gains of the past two years.
Today, the President is establishing the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council through an Executive Order. I am very proud to chair this Council—consisting of members across 13 agencies — whose mission is to jump-start development in urban and rural communities through the creation of Opportunity Zones.
Located in economically distressed communities across this country, Opportunity Zones are home to approximately 35 million Americans. The Department of Treasury estimates that Opportunity Zone legislation could attract over $100 billion in private investment, which would go a long way to spur economic development and create jobs. This kind of medicine is precisely what any doctor would prescribe to heal communities where nearly one in three people live in poverty and unemployment is nearly twice the national average.
Too often, new investments into distressed communities are “here today, gone tomorrow.” By offering incentives that encourage investors to think in terms of decades instead of days, Opportunity Zones ensure that development is “here today, here to stay.”
This long-term approach means that new growth becomes consistent growth and new jobs become steady jobs. The result is an innovative market- and place-based approach that creates a win-win for investors and distressed communities alike. The Council will help improve the efficiency of this process, and is ready to consider more than 150 actions to better target, streamline, and coordinate federal programs in Opportunity Zones.
These are still early days for the work of the Council and Opportunity Zones, but the groundwork has been laid. The seeds the President has planted are growing and the promise they hold will improve places long forgotten, and the lives of those who call those places home.
With that, I would like to welcome the President back to the podium.