State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) reported that Gov. Bruce Rauner announced 327 Opportunity Zone Census tract recommendations submitted by the State of Illinois have been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department. These zones cover more than 85 counties throughout the state and aim to support the future of Illinois through economic growth and investment.
“Opportunity Zones have been approved in Douglas, Edgar, Moultrie & Shelby Counties,” Rep. Halbrook stated. “These areas are in desperate need of jobs, benefiting individuals and communities. This is a great opportunity to bring jobs and investments into east Central Illinois.”
To determine the most effective tracts for nomination, a three-phase approach was implemented to identify need and potential, adequately represent the entire state, and account for local input. Phase one involved need based indexing depending on factors like poverty rates, specifically those among children, unemployment rates, crime rates and population. These standards highlight the goal of the program in Illinois which is to cultivate potential within disadvantaged communities and invest in our future generations across the state. Phase two and three were used to ensure a statewide benefit and each county with qualifying tracts received at least one zone and towns and cities across the state were limited on the number of zones included.
Established by the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones present an opportunity for private, tax-free investment in low-income areas with economic need, benefiting residents living in the zones and private investors. 1,305 qualifying low-income census tracts were available for selection, of which only 25 percent could be nominated by the Governor for inclusion in the program.
For more information on Opportunity Zones visit https://www.illinois.gov/dceo/Pages/OppZn.aspx.