Smart Growth America recently published the LOCUS National Opportunity Zone Ranking Report. The report aims to rank the over 8,700 designated Opportunity Zones, based on their Smart Growth Potential and Social Equity Performance. The zones with the highest rankings are those that provide positive economic, environmental, and social returns.
Opportunity Zones were introduced with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The zones are designated areas in low-income communities eligible for tax incentives on capital gains. Of the over 8,7000 Opportunity Zones nationally, the researchers found that very few ranked well in the areas of Smart Growth Potential and Social Equity Performance.
Further, the researchers note policymaker and advocate concern that these incentives may increase the potential for gentrification, as well as inadequately support equity and environmental sustainability. Despite these concerns, Smart Growth America recognizes these investments can preserve and strengthen communities, and recommends collaboration with community leaders, protective investment strategies, and community driven investments.
In Connecticut, the top three Opportunity Zones for Smart Growth Potential are in Downtown Stamford, Downtown Waterbury, and Hartford County.