Growing up in a middle-class family as the son of a police officer, I am a firm believer in the “Land of Opportunity.” Managed properly, such opportunity could come to regions such as the Ninth District of Pennsylvania.
One of my top priorities in Congress is to support and help implement the new Opportunity Zones initiative. More than 8,000 communities qualify as an Opportunity Zone, individual census tracts that offer tax benefits designed to spur economic development and job creation by encouraging long-term investments.
Nearly 35 million Americans live in these designated areas, and it is projected they will spur $100 billion in private investment.
Pennsylvania’s Ninth Congressional District, which I represent, contains 10 Opportunity Zones, including areas in Columbia, Lebanon, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland and Schuylkill counties. Near the district, Reading also encompasses six additional Opportunity Zones.
Recently, the White House’s Opportunity and Revitalization Council, which is tasked with implementing this new program, visited Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, to lead a roundtable discussion regarding how Tamaqua can benefit from this program. We discussed unleashing the full economic potential of our district, which will undoubtedly lead to more jobs and long-term investment.
There is also a strong incentive to invest in Opportunity Zones. This typically occurs through a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF), or a vehicle that is set up for investing in eligible property. For example, if $10,000 is invested in stock and it earns a 10 percent profit, the money earned ($1,000) could be put into a QOF. If the $1,000 is left in the QOF for 10 years, the initial investment, as well as all earnings accrued over the 10-year period, have zero capital gains tax. This result will further promote investment and spark economic growth.
Under President Trump’s leadership, our economy is booming, and business optimism is soaring. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, in May the optimism index increased 1.5 points to 105 on positive views of the economy. Additionally, the June jobs report jumped
as the U.S. economy added 224,000 jobs, the best gain since January.
Nevertheless, we still have stressed communities, rural and otherwise, with extraordinary intrinsic value. The region of Pennsylvania that I represent offers tremendous access to large sections of the American economy, with 60 percent of the U.S. population within a 10-hour drive. Due to this proximity, there are numerous distribution centers in and around my district. It is exciting to share that we are becoming the distribution hub of North America and that Opportunity Zones can continue to improve our economy and create more jobs.
Our area is prime for revitalization and investment touting low energy costs, exceptional health care systems, and a strong pool of hardworking Pennsylvanians. We already have many great businesses and growth that will only continue through this program.
However, we must do more. The best days of Pennsylvania’s Ninth District are ahead of us and this program creates an enormous opportunity to attract capital investments and build greater prosperity.
I look forward to playing a role in creating opportunity for all — in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
Please contact my office for further information: www.meuser.house.gov or (202) 225-6511.
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser is a Republican from Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District.