The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 2, 2004

President Bush Proposes New "Opportunity Zones"

     Fact sheet en Español

America's changing economy is strong and getting stronger. But during these times of change, America's economic growth is not felt equally throughout the Nation. In poor communities and in communities where traditional industries do not employ as many workers as they did a generation ago, opportunity can seem more distant. President Bush believes that government must be on the side of the people in these communities.

President Bush believes that America's economic prosperity should extend to every corner of our country. To help reach that goal, he has proposed a new "Opportunity Zone" initiative to assist America's transitioning neighborhoods - those areas that have lost a significant portion of their economic base as a result of our changing economy, for example, due to loss of manufacturing or textile employment, and are now in the process of transitioning to a more diverse, broad-based, 21st century economy.

Opportunity Zones would ease that transition by targeting Federal resources and encouraging new and existing businesses to invest in these areas. Opportunity Zones are different from existing Empowerment Zones (EZ), Enterprise Communities (EC), and Renewal Communities (RC). They provide a comprehensive, results-based approach, expanding the focus of assistance beyond economic activity to encompass education, job training, affordable housing, and other activities critical for a vibrant community. Communities already designated EZs, ECs, or RCs would be allowed to apply for Opportunity Zone designation.

In addition, Opportunity Zones recognize that overcoming barriers to growth requires local involvement. Designation as an Opportunity Zone requires a commitment from the community to partner with the Federal government and a demonstrated capacity to reduce local barriers to development and create jobs.

What benefits do Opportunity Zones receive?

Areas qualifying for Opportunity Zone status would be moved to the front of the line for certain Federal assistance programs. Specifically, individuals, organizations, and governments within an Opportunity Zone could receive priority designation when applying for the following Federal programs:

To stimulate growth, opportunity, and job creation, Opportunity Zones would encourage businesses to locate, invest, and hire in the community through:

Which communities qualify to be an Opportunity Zone?

Opportunity Zones expand the concept of traditional enterprise zones to include communities in transition. A community can qualify to be an Opportunity Zones by fitting one of the following two categories:

There will be 40 new Opportunity Zones selected - 28 urban zones and 12 rural zones - through a competitive process. The competitive process will determine whether there is a commitment from the community to partner with the Federal government and a demonstrated capacity to reduce local barriers to development and create jobs. Examples of areas that might qualify to compete for an Opportunity Zone designation include Winnebago County, Illinois; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; and Erie County, Pennsylvania.

How does a community become an Opportunity Zone?

In order to qualify to be an Opportunity Zone, a community that either (1) meets the "community in transition" eligibility requirements above, or (2) is an EZ, EC, or RC, would:


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