Texas Tech University

Texas Tech, Regional Leaders Partner to Host Historic Opportunity Zone Summit

By: Glenys Young 

Rawls College of Business entrance

Compared to the metros of Dallas, Houston and Austin, West Texas isn't generally considered to be on the forefront of economic policy advancement. But thanks to the combined efforts of Texas Tech University faculty and regional leaders in government and economic development, West Texas is poised to take center stage in a hot-button national initiative.

Opportunity Zones are, perhaps, the biggest economic issue you haven't heard of. That's because, after their inclusion in the U.S. Tax Code in December 2017, there's been a delay while the U.S. Treasury Department works to finalize rules for the program. At the most basic level, an Opportunity Zone is an economically distressed geographic area – certified as such by the Secretary of the Treasury – where new investments into the area may be eligible for preferential tax incentives.

The first Opportunity Zones, which cover parts of 18 states, were designated on April 9, 2018. Opportunity Zones have now been designated covering parts of all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. But because there still are no clear Treasury Department rules as to how to proceed with increasing investment in these areas, the leaders in charge of most Opportunity Zones have adopted something of a wait-and-see policy.

That's what sets West Texas apart. Rather than waiting to see what the rulings will bring, leaders in Lubbock have been working with their counterparts throughout the South Plains to develop a unique grassroots, regional collaboration.