Members of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council (WHORC) met with local civic leaders, members of the community, and the staff of Acadiana Planning Commission for a two-day listening tour on the Opportunity Zones of Acadiana.
The two meeting spots are in Opelousas and Lafayette. The events include the bus tour, roundtable discussions with community leaders and WHORC representatives, and a press conference.
"This is a rare and incredibly beneficial opportunity for the Acadiana area," says Monique Boulet, CEO of Acadiana Planning Commission.
"We have been working throughout the region with community leaders in each of our opportunity zones to bring awareness and develop community vision and focus on potential projects."
The event's purpose was to discuss the bipartisan Opportunity Zone initiatives that are available in Acadiana.
The event took place from 4:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. and ended with a press conference.
The Lafayette listening tour event was held at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center at 101 Jefferson St. in Lafayette.
Opportunity Zones are a federal program established by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed on December 22, 2017. It is a bipartisan effort, sponsored by Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Tim Scott.
The purpose is to encourage investors with capital gains to reinvest funds into local distressed businesses.
Investors who take advantage of the program can receive a "tax deferral of their invested capital gains taxes, a reduction in the amount of their capital gains that is taxable, and potentially a total exclusion of new capital gains from the investment depending upon the length of the investment."
Investors can take their funds and reinvest them into businesses and projects in low-income areas to create economic growth and better quality of life.
The end goal of opportunity zones is to spur economic growth. Low-income communities see new capital invested in their area, which in turn adds jobs, incrases the value of homes, and entices new businesses to move into the area, which then again creates more jobs.
There are 25 opportunity zones in Acadiana. The local initiative is unique because parishes have come together to "promote and leverage to potential investors."
Acadia - 1
Evangeline - 2
Iberia - 4
Jeff Davis - 1
Lafayette - 7
St. Landry - 4
St. Martin - 1
St. Mary - 3
Vermilion - 1
Acadiana's approach to opportunity zones attracted White House attention. The Acadiana Planning Commission says that "community stakeholders have the opportunity to develop catalytic projects that can help change the trajectory of each of our downtowns and main streets...by attracting investors whose hearts and dollars are set on catalytic projects, our communities can be revitalized and achieve long-term resiliency with more jobs and better living standards."
Learn more about Acadiana and local opportunity zones here.