Federal officials are scheduled to visit Acadiana this week to discuss opportunity zone programs designed to revitalize communities.
The White House delegation, which will include a top U.S. Housing and Urban Development official, will visit Opelousas on Tuesday and Lafayette on Wednesday. Scott Turner, director of the White House Council on Opportunity and Revitalization, also is scheduled to meet with local government, education and business leaders.
Opportunity zones are low-income areas where developers can receive tax breaks and incentives. Seven census tracts in the north and central parts of Lafayette with about 29,000 residents were designated through the federal Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.
Across the region, 18 more tracts with about 72,500 more residents, were given the same designation in 2018, which decreases or eliminates federal capital gains taxes on investments.
In 2018, 150 census tracts across the state were designated opportunity zones. In Lafayette, three were along University Avenue from Interstate 10 to Cameron Street; another is near University Avenue north of I-10; and others are in downtown Lafayette, along Evangeline Thruway and near the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Combined, all the opportunity zones are 57.4% black, compared to 26% for Lafayette Parish as a whole. The zones have an average annual household income of $18,000 lower than the parish as a whole.
President Donald Trump created the White House council on opportunity in December to target and streamline federal resources for opportunity zones and economically distressed areas. Acadiana leaders will discuss efforts in the region to serve these areas, and will offer officials a tour to discuss successful initiatives.
Groups helping to prepare for the federal visit include the regional business chamber One Acadiana, South Louisiana Community College, and the Acadiana Planning Commission.
The group has announced a press conference Tuesday in Opelousas and has scheduled a separate one Wednesday in Lafayette.