Census Tracts

Opportunity Zones

Background

The recently passed federal tax bill allowed states to identify up to 25% of low-income, high-poverty census tracts to the U.S. Treasury, which made the final determination of “Opportunity Zones”. These areas will be eligible for “Opportunity Funds” (not yet formed) to invest in economic development to receive a 10-year federal tax break.

Ohio recommended 320 census tracts (25% of 1,280 eligible tracts), its full allocation.

Input from Interested Parties

Based on the timeline outlined in legislation, Development reached out to local units of governments from municipalities to county commissioners, local development professionals, development organizations, port authorities, and more. The Development Services Agency received over 100 calls and 238 online submissions, as well as letters of support, many including multiple census tracts.

Getting from 890 to 320

Census tracts are located within county boundaries and determined by population. Development started by calculating 25% of each county’s eligible census tracts. Then, submissions were reviewed by county. 

  • If the number of submitted tracts in a county was less than 25% of the county’s eligible tracts, eligibility was confirmed, and the tracts were marked “Yes”, in preliminary evaluation.
  • For most counties, the number of submitted tracts exceeded 25% of eligible tracts. In preliminary evaluation “Yes” was assigned to 25% of the tracts in the county, with the remaining tracts assigned “Maybe”, based on the following criteria.
  • Local/Regional Cooperation –In most circumstances, a group submission would duplicate a tract submitted by a single governmental entity, nonprofit organization, development or economic council, etc.  Priority was given to tracts where local cooperation was demonstrated.  
    • Local/Regional Prioritization – under the theory that local or regional submitters know more about a tract within their county, the submitters’ identified priorities were considered.
    • Single Tract/Multiple Submissions – a single tract submitted by multiple submitters, was given priority over a single tract submitted by a single submitter.
    • Tract Descriptions – Job creation potential, history of public/private investment within the tract, future commitments of public/private investment, available land for development, existing businesses/employers within the region, and sector specific lines (i.e., medical, airport, deep water ports, housing, recreational waterfront, etc.), as identified by submitters, were prioritized.
  • Next, Development further reviewed the “Maybe” tracts for strong and persuasive input and to assure counties, regions, Appalachia, and large population metropolitan areas received as close to 25% of their eligible tracts selected as possible. 

All 73 counties, in which eligible tracts were submitted, have tracts designated by the U.S. Treasury. 

In the map below, the shaded areas indicate the federally designated Opportunity Zones in the state of Ohio.

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