President Trump has established the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council (the “Council”) by Executive Order 13853 (“Order”) issued on December 12, 2018. Its stated purpose is to encourage public and private investment in urban and economically distressed areas, including Qualified Opportunity Zones (“QOZs”). As we have discussed in prior Legal Alerts, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“Act”), established a new federal tax incentive program promoting equity investments in low-income communities designated as QOZs.

The most recent Executive Order establishing the Council aims to facilitate such investment, by, among other things, streamlining regulations and optimizing use of Federal resources. To achieve its stated goals, the Council is tasked with coordinating efforts across multiple executive departments and federal agencies to engage with state and local governments to revitalize urban and economically distressed areas.

The Council will be chaired by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and membership shall comprise the leaders of 16 federal agencies/departments, with the ability to add members as the Chair may so designate. The Council will be funded by existing appropriates within HUD, and a HUD representative will serve as its Executive Director.

Mission of White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council

The Council’s mission is to:

  • Assess the actions each agency can take under existing authorities to prioritize or focus Federal investments;
  • Minimize all regulatory and administrative costs and burdens that discourage public and private investment;
  • Regularly consult with officials from State, local, and tribal governments and individuals from the private sector to solicit feedback on how best to stimulate the economic development;
  • Coordinate federal interagency efforts to help ensure that private and public stakeholders can successfully develop strategies for economic growth and revitalization;
  • Recommend policies that streamline regulatory and administrative burdens, all with a goal of making it easier for recipients to receive and manage multiple types of public and private investments.

Web-based tool considered for investing in Opportunity Zones

Notably, consideration will be given by the Council as to whether and how to develop an integrated web-based tool through which entrepreneurs, investors, and other stakeholders could avail themselves of all applicable federal financing programs and incentives available to projects located in urban and economically distressed areas, including QOZs.

Within 90 days of the effective date of the Order creating the Council, the Council will submit a detailed work plan as to how it will accomplish its goals. Within 210 days of the date of the Order, the Council will produce a list of recommended changes to federal statutes, regulations, policies, and programs that would encourage public and private investment in urban and economically distressed communities, including QOZs; and within one year, the Council will produce a list of recommended statutory and policy changes that would help state, local, and tribal governments better utilize federal resources in urban and economically distressed communities.  In addition, the Council is required to identify best practices that could be integrated into public and private investments in urban and economically distressed communities, in order to increase economic growth, encourage new business formation, and revitalize communities.  The Council is scheduled to terminate on January 21, 2021, unless extended by the President.

The Treasury is also expected to issue additional guidance on QOZs in the form of regulations to be released in early 2019.

For more information, please contact Pietra Zaffram at (716) 200-5050 or; or the Harris Beach attorney with whom you usually work.

This alert does not purport to be a substitute for advice of counsel on specific matters.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York State, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Melville, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse, Uniondale and White Plains, as well as New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.