WASHINGTON, D.C. – House republicans are looking to expand so-called opportunity zones. These are areas that try to boost economic development in places that might be otherwise overlooked. Now they’re eyeing more rural areas for opportunity zones.
“You have to be able to show people what you did, why you did it and how it turned out and that’s the whole purpose of it,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R- PA).
Kelly’s congressional district includes Erie, Pennsylvania. Erie has been named in a handful of news articles as a template of what opportunity zones can do to the area.
“You can see something that was once dead now that we breathe life back into it,” said Kelly.
Opportunity zones are a Trump era economic development tool that allows people invest in distressed areas. The purpose is to bring economic growth and create jobs in low-income communities while providing tax benefits to investors. Areas like western New York and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula also have designated opportunity zones.
Legislation from the House Ways and Means committee is looking to expand opportunity zones from urban to rural areas. The Committee said the change will allow rural communities to benefit from the same recovery and development opportunity zones have delivered to urban areas.
“The main thing is driving everything towards a profit,” said Kelly. “Then that drives further investment, hiring people, educating people, serving a need in a community.”
Representative Kelly hopes to bring congressional members to Erie to show them first hand how these opportunity zones have benefitted the community.