La. officials gather at the White House to discuss Opportunity Zones

La. officials gather at the White House to discuss Opportunity Zones
The White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council host a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in the Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. (Official White House Photos by Randy Florendo) (Source: Randy Florendo)

WASHINGTON (WAFB) - Various officials from Louisiana gathered at the White House Thursday, Jan. 23 to discuss Opportunity Zones. Specifically, the ways Louisiana officials can better partner with federal officials to use Opportunity Zones to benefit residents in the state.

The White House hosted mayors, parish presidents, and representatives from economic development organizations across Louisiana to discuss ways that Opportunity Zones can continue to benefit citizens of Louisiana.
The White House hosted mayors, parish presidents, and representatives from economic development organizations across Louisiana to discuss ways that Opportunity Zones can continue to benefit citizens of Louisiana. (Source: Photo Courtesy of Hailey Hart)

Opportunity Zones were approved by Congress in 2017. They are intended as low-income communities where businesses and other economic development groups are incentivized to invest. Tax incentives are among the benefits provided to investors in these areas.

Is your neighborhood an Opportunity Zone? Opportunity Zones are in every state. Click here to view an interactive map that allows you to explore your area.

However, an InvestigateTV analysis of economic data found Opportunity Zones in thriving communities in some of the wealthiest areas in the nation. Critics have claimed there’s little oversight for the zones. Developers don’t have to report any metrics such as how many jobs the project created or how many affordable housing units were built. And, there is a loophole that allows investors to bypass distressed areas.

Areas that qualify to be considered as Opportunity Zones retain the designation for 10 years.

Read the full list of officials who visited the White House below:

Administration Officials:

  • Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity & Revitalization Council
  • Tim Pataki, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Liaison
  • Ja’Ron Smith, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Office of American Innovation
  • Ben Hobbs, Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy
  • Nicole Frazier, Special Assistant to the President & Director of Strategic Partnerships & African American Outreach

Agency Officials:

  • Dr. John Fleming, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development
  • Daniel Kowalski, Counselor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Treasury
  • Alfonso Costa Jr, Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
  • Chad Rupe, Administrator for Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Chris Caldwell, Federal Chairman, Delta Regional Authority

Participants from Louisiana:

  • Julius Alsandor, Mayor of Opelousas
  • Monique Boulet, CEO, Acadiana Planning Commission
  • Leslie Durham, Louisiana Designee, Delta Regional Authority
  • Scott Fontenot, Mayor of Eunice
  • Josh Guillory, Mayor-President of Lafayette Parish
  • Michael Hecht, President and CEO, Greater New Orleans Regional Economic Development
  • Roy Holleman, Louisiana State Director, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Chad LaComb, Economic Development Planner, Acadiana Planning Commission
  • Scott Martinez, President, North Louisiana Economic Partnership
  • Robby Miller, President, Tangipahoa Parish
  • Mandi Mitchell, Assistant Secretary, Louisiana Economic Development
  • Adrian Perkins, Mayor of Shreveport
  • Jan-Scott Richard, Mayor of Scott
  • Joel Robideaux, Former Mayor-President of Lafayette
  • Shawn Wilson, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development

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