President Trump Expected to Tout “Opportunity Zones” During Charlotte Visit

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – President Trump will be in Charlotte on Friday to tout his administration’s work creating “opportunity zones.”

They’re meant to provide economic opportunities and jobs in low-income neighborhoods.

But critics worry the program is leading to more gentrification.

“Jobs and investments are pouring in

to 9,000 previously neglected neighborhoods, thanks to opportunity zones,” the president said during the State of the Union Address on Tuesday night.

As part of the 2017 tax cut bill, private investors can get tax breaks if they’re willing to re-invest their profits in economically depressed areas.

“Wealthy people and companies are pouring money into poor neighborhoods or areas that haven’t seen investment in many decades, creating jobs, energy, and excitement,” Trump said during the speech.

Charlotte has 17 neighborhoods designated as “opportunity zones.” Most are in the north or west part of the city, with the exception of the areas around the old Eastland Mall.

The opportunity zones are clustered around six key areas: East Charlotte, North End and North Tryon, Wilkinson and the Airport, Freedom Drive, West Trade and Beatties Ford, and Rozzelles Ferry.

While the zones are seeing investment, the program is also seeing criticism from community activists like Corine Mack.

“It sounds really nice, but the actual project is always something that harms brown people and black people deeply,” Mack says.

She likens “opportunity zones” to urban renewal projects that wiped out the Brooklyn neighborhood in Charlotte.

“They never care if the development’s good for the community. The developers jump on it because it’s a money-making opportunity for them. That’s the opportunity zone,” Mack says.