Good Jobs First Blog
Opportunity Zones provide federal capital gains tax breaks, supposedly to encourage wealthy investors and corporations to invest their pre-tax gains in historically disenfranchised neighborhoods, help grow local economies and ultimately, improve the long-term prospects for zone residents. But as David Wessel shows in his book, Only the Rich Can Play: How Washington Works in the New Gilded Age, that hasn’t been the case. Despite limited data (the enabling legislation for OZs has next to no guardrails or meaningful reporting requirements), Wessel gives numerous examples of how the winners of the OZs have often been affluent communities and already-in-the-works projects.
Since stimulus funds started going out, Good Jobs First and other open government advocates have been pushing for greater transparency and accountability for how trillions in CARES Act and ARPA funds are being spent. Some states, we’ve noted, have made questionable if not outright poor choices.
In addition to aid like unemployment insurance and business loans, Uncle Sam is disbursing hundreds of billions to help the economy recover from impacts caused by a global pandemic and widespread economic shutdown. The Delta variant has sparked renewed hardships.
On September 27, Ford Motor Company announced plans to invest $5.6 billion at the Memphis Regional Megasite in Stanton, Tennessee, to build an electric vehicle (EV) assembly and battery plant, jointly with SK Innovation. The facility, dubbed “Blue Oval City” by Ford (in a reference to its corporate logo), is projected to employ 5,800 people as Ford makes its first big foray into EV production. The same week, Ford and SK Innovation revealed plans for two more battery plants in Glendale, Kentucky, south of Louisville, at an estimated cost of $5.8 billion.