Gov. Eric Holcomb has submitted a list of 156 Indiana census tracts to become designated as federal “opportunity zones,” which could bring development and tax incentives to blighted areas.
Opportunity Zones were created under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that Congress approved in December. The zones are meant to spur private sector investment in low-income communities.
Governors in each state were allowed to nominate up to 25 percent of the total number of low-income census tracts in the state to become part of the program. In Indiana, that meant up to 156 areas could be recommended.
Once approved by the U.S. Department of Treasury, the designation is in place for 10 years.
The 156 census tracts nominated by Holcomb are located in 58 counties and include portions of 83 cities or towns. The areas cover a combined total of 1,000 square miles and the homes of more than 500,000 Indiana residents.
Marion County has the biggest share of census tracts nominated with 36 areas on the list. In surrounding counties, Boone, Hendricks, Morgan and Johnson counties each have one census tract on the list. Two areas are in Shelby County and four areas are in Madison County.
None of the recommended census tracts are in Hancock or Hamilton counties.
The average poverty rate in the recommended census tracts is 31 percent. Holcomb’s office received close to 2,000 recommendations on which areas to include from more than 350 local officials, stakeholders and residents.
An advisory group comprised of United Way of Central Indiana President and CEO Ann Murtlow, Indiana Farm Bureau former president Don Villwock, former LaPorte mayor Leigh Morris, Lifeline Youth & Family Services Chief Development Officer Brenda Gerber Vincent and Homeless Coalition of Southern Indiana Executive Director Keeley Stingel made the final recommendations to Holcomb.
To see the full list of census tracts nominated by Holcomb, click here.