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CEO DATELINE – New association to promote opportunity zones

May 9, 2019
By Walt Williams

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A former U.S. Senate staffer has co-founded a new association to advocate for a tax-incentive tool created by Congress to encourage investment in low-income communities.

The Opportunity Funds Association will “enable Opportunity Fund Managers and their parent companies to participate in public policy, develop best practices, and share the industry’s contributions to distressed communities throughout the country,” according to a statement on the group’s website.

“Opportunity zones” were established in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in 2017. Their purpose is to spur economic development and job creation in “economically distressed” communities by providing tax incentives for investment in funds set up for those communities, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Shay Hawkins, a former tax policy adviser to Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), is co-founder and CEO of OFA. He said in a statement that opportunity zones have “the potential to revitalize many communities that have been left behind.”

“But for that economic revitalization to become a reality, we must ensure effective and transparent implementation, and give voice to the millions who will benefit from these critical investments,” Hawkins said.

OFA has been established as 501(c)(6) trade association. The group lists two staff on its website, including Hawkins.