There are over 8,700 Opportunity Zones across the United States and its territories. Indiana has 156 of these zones. Most of East Chicago is located within an Opportunity Zone with the Calumet neighborhood located in Opportunity Zones identified by Census Tracts 303 and 307.
The Opportunity Zone program was created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which provides tax advantages to spur economic development and job creation in designated areas. Once the law passed, state governments nominated census tracts meeting Opportunity Zone qualifications that were then approved by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Some characteristics that enable census tracts to qualify include having a poverty rate of at least 20% or a significantly lower median family income than its state or metropolitan area.
Once an Opportunity Zone is established, investors can provide resources to finance a wide range of projects, including commercial, residential, and industrial developments; infrastructure; and support for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Redevelopment projects can also qualify so long as those properties are substantially improved. Opportunity Zone investors are eligible for several federal capital gains tax incentives, including a permanent exclusion of taxable income on new gains produced by their Opportunity Zone investments, a basis step-up of capital gains that are invested in Opportunity Zones, and a temporary deferral of capital gains on any existing assets invested into Opportunity Zone projects.