Opportunity Zone Maps: A Primer
Opportunity Zones, or OZs, are federally-designated census tracts, chosen by state governors, and approved by the treasury. Investors within these zones can defer, reduce, and eliminate their tax burden. The programs were created as part of 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as a way to spur private development in areas of the country that have traditionally lagged behind the rest and to help solve many of the social ills that result from that lack of progress.
What is an Opportunity Zone Mapping Tool?
Each state and US territory has a different number of designated Opportunity Zones. For instance, a wealthy state like Massachusetts only has 138 tracts in 79 communities that qualify for OZ benefits, while the entire island of Puerto Rico is one large Opportunity Zone, due to the lower level of economic development on the island and subsequent need to spur more growth.
To make things easier for investors to locate and deploy capital in the right Opportunity Zones, there are many OZ mapping tools online that can assist in finding the right fit. Here are a few of the top mapping tools you can use in your search for OZ investments. For the purpose of this article, we will split the two tool-types into national and regional OZ tools.
National Opportunity Zone Mapping Tools
EIG Opportunity Zone Map
EIG, or the Economic Innovation Group, is among the leading players in the national OZ mapping sphere. Like most of the other mapping tools on our list, they are focused on data collection and distribution, and they also have tech heavyweights like Facebook's Sean Parker in their corner as a founder and developer.
They were also one of the first to the game with an easy to use interface which allows users to search Opportunity Zones by scrolling on a map or inputting a physical address to find nearby OZs. It works similarly to Google Maps and other standard tools- place the name of a city or area in which you are thinking of making an investment, and the map will populate nearby zones. The information included will have the specific boundaries of the local OZs, as well as other relevant information like the federal census tract number, which is critical for due diligence and ensuring that the zone falls within the purview of the program.
Other popular National Opportunity Zone tools include:
These are just a few of the more robust and accessible options, and there are hundreds of tools and apps across the web to assist in your national Opportunity Zone search.
Regional Opportunity Zone Mapping Tools
The vast majority of regional Opportunity Zone mapping tools are underpinned by Esri, a popular GIS or Geographic Information System provider. As many of them use this same technology to underlie their systems, they share much of the same functionality and tend to look very similar. The regional tools mostly operate similarly, with the only differences being the specific region in which they focus.
Eastern United States
The Eastern US is the densest area of the country, and with that density comes a great deal of underserved neighborhoods that are desperately in need of capital infusions. Large metro areas like Philadelphia, Washington DC, and parts of New York and New Jersey all have a substantial Opportunity Zone presence.
Here is a list of Eastern US Opportunity Zone tools:
Southern United States
As one of the largest states, both physically and economically, the Lone Star State is going to be a big part of many investor Opportunity Zone strategies. Reonomy created this pleasing to the eye map, which covers the entire state of Texas, with any currently designated Opportunity Zones set apart by color gradation, in this case, light and dark purple. While searching for zones, click on the shaded area, and it will show you the exact boundaries for the zone, the federal census tract number, and the county in which the OZ resides.
Other Southern-specific Opportunity Zone tools are listed below:
Western United States
The Western United States also has its fair share of Opportunity Zones, many of which rest in California, but also in smaller states like Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona.
The California State Integrated Qualified Opportunity Zone tool is simple but effective, and one can use it to separate Opportunity Zones by local region, political boundaries, and counties. This tool works similarly to others listed, click on the highlighted Opportunity Zone on the map to receive information like the census tract number, county, etc.
In Colorado, the state offers the Colorado Office of Economic Affairs OZ tool. The functionality provided by this map tool is essentially the same as the rest of the maps listed, but with a particular focus on Colorado. The official site also offers other resources for potential investors in Opportunity Zones within the state.
Other Western US Opportunity Zone mapping tools include:
Non-Contiguous/Special Administrative Areas of the United States
There are also Opportunity Zones within other parts of the country which are not directly connected to the landmass, including Puerto Rico, which, as we mentioned, has the entire island as an OZ, alongside Alaska, American Samoa, and Hawaii. Again, these tools function in the same manner as the others in this guide but are regionally specific.
The Bottom Line
Opportunity Zone mapping tools offer a phenomenal "opportunity" for investors to find and deploy capital within needy communities- to do well while doing good. The unprecedented tax benefits provided by Opportunity Zones can be particularly valuable for high-net-worth individuals, who likely have a much higher tax burden than the average retail investors- these maps can be a guideline to reducing your tax burden, while creating growth and progress within communities that our society has ignored up until this point.