Erie leaders urge Biden administration to continue Opportunity Zone program
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Erie Downtown Development Corporation is entering its fourth year, continuing $100 million worth of construction in downtown Erie. They continue work on the future site of new apartments, a grocery store, and food hall.
But, President Joe Biden has pledged to reverse some of the Trump administration’s tax cuts, leaving the future of the program in question. White House officials say they will review the program to ensure it’s actually working and is not simply a tax haven. Critics argue the policy does little to improve the lives of the resident who actually live in the Opportunity Zones, notably minorities.
“The President is supportive of some reforms to the way that Opportunity Zones operate to make sure they are actually driving investment into communities that need it,” said Bharat Ramamurti, Deputy Director of the White House National Economic Council.
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), who represents the city of Erie in Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District, sits on the House Ways & Means Committee, which oversees tax policy. He calls the program a success.
“Whether it will continue or not is up in the air,” Kelly said in an interview last month. “I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see on that one. But, I hope (the Biden administration) will continue it. I hope they will even expand it.”
The Opportunity Zones legislation was written with bipartisan support, led by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). So, officials from the E.D.D.C. are optimistic their work will continue even if changes are made.
“It would be more of a scalpel approach as opposed to a hammer,” Wachter said of any potential changes.