Secretary Carson Tours Magic City highlighting Opportunity Zones Program
[Left to right: Denise Cleveland-Leggett HUD SE Regional Administrator, Scott Turner White House Executive Director Opportunity and Revitalization Council, Secretary Ben Carson, Mike Lundy Birmingham Housing Authority Executive Director and Josh Carpenter City of Birmingham, Director of Innovation and Economic Opportunity  participate with community leaders concerning Opportunity Zone Program.]
Left to right: Denise Cleveland-Leggett HUD SE Regional Administrator, Scott Turner White House Executive Director Opportunity and Revitalization Council, Secretary Ben Carson, Mike Lundy Birmingham Housing Authority Executive Director and Josh Carpenter City of Birmingham, Director of Innovation and Economic Opportunity participate with community leaders concerning Opportunity Zone Program.
Photo Credit: OPA
[Left to right: Culinary Chef and instructor, Secretary Ben Carson and Michael Lundy Birmingham Housing Authority Executive Director observe the marvelous cuisine that residents cooked as part of the Opportunity Center self-sufficiency and work force development program.]
Left to right: Culinary Chef and instructor, Secretary Ben Carson and Michael Lundy Birmingham Housing Authority Executive Director observe the marvelous cuisine that residents cooked as part of the Opportunity Center self-sufficiency and work force development program.
Photo Credit: OPA

Secretary Carson recently visited Birmingham, Alabama “Magic City” highlighting the Administration’s Opportunity Zone Program and how it incentivizes investors to focus on tax advantaged investments that help transform low income communities that respective Governors have designated as Opportunity Zones in coordination with local leadership. Accompanying Secretary Carson was Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, Ja’Ron Smith White House Legislative Affairs, Alfonso Costa and Coalter Baker HUD Deputy Chief of Staffs, HUD General Counsel Paul Compton, Denise Cleveland-Leggett HUD SE Region Administrator and Michael Browder HUD SE Deputy Regional Administrator. During the visit Secretary Carson met with City of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, City of Birmingham Director of Innovation and Economic Opportunity Josh Carpenter, Executive Director of Birmingham Housing Authority Michael Lundy and government and business leaders in the community and visited with local HUD Birmingham field office team members.

During a portion of the visit Secretary Carson toured Marks Village public housing community in Gate City’s Campus of Hope and conducted an Opportunity Zone Roundtable there with community leadership expounding on the merits of Opportunity Zones. Later Secretary Carson witnessed firsthand what the housing authority is doing to address residential self-sufficiency through workforce development programs, entrepreneurial programs in culinary arts and self-sufficiency and educational programs.

“This Opportunity Zone program is phenomenal,” Secretary Carson shared with political and leaders in business, education and social services. “Over the last couple of years, there’s been an enormous amount of capital gains and we have so many areas of the country that are economically depressed, places that have pretty much been forgotten about.”

“If we have a mechanism where can get some of that unrealized capital gains into those areas as an investment, think about the possibilities.

“That’s why this (Opportunity Zone Program) was created.”

Birmingham’s vision for leveraging the Opportunity Zones Program has created the Birmingham Inclusive Growth (BIG) partnership which works “To ensure that the Opportunity Zone program was wielded as a tool for neighborhood revitalization and quality job growth, the City of Birmingham co-created an asset-based model to identify census tracts with absorptive capacity for new capital. We secured 24 zones that touch 77 of our 99 neighborhoods. From one of the only airports in an Opportunity Zone in the country, to the historic Civil Rights District, to the Innovation District, to neighborhood commercial business districts, Birmingham is ripe with opportunity.” Now, it’s called BIG — the Birmingham Inclusive Growth Partnership.

President Trump signed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, creating Opportunity Zones to stimulate long-term investments in low-income communities. The program offers capital gains tax relief to those who invest in these distressed areas. This program is anticipated to spur $100 billion in private capital investment in Opportunity Zones. Incentivizing investment in low-income communities fosters economic revitalization, job creation, and promotes sustainable economic growth across the nation, especially in communities HUD serves. Read more about the Opportunity Zones program.

Opportunity Zones are a powerful vehicle for bringing economic growth and job creation to the American communities that need it the most. On average, the median family income in an Opportunity Zone is 37 percent below the state median. To date, 8,761 communities in all 50 States, Washington D.C., and five Territories have been designated as Opportunity Zones. Nearly 35 million Americans live in communities designated as Opportunity Zones.

Currently, there are approximately 380,000 Public Housing units and approximately 340,000 Project-Based Rental Assistance units within Opportunity Zones. Nearly a third of the more than 100,000 rental units preserved through HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) are located in Opportunity Zones. Read more about the RAD program.