Business Development

Opportunity Zones

A new way to finance projects in underserved areas

Overview, Background and Description

Public Law 115-97, also known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, provides for the governor of each state to nominate certain census tracts as “Opportunity Zones”. Each governor must submit these nominations to the federal government no later than April 20, 2018 (inclusive of 30 day extension). The Act allows each governor to nominate up to 25% of the total number of eligible census tracts within the state as Opportunity Zones.

Eligible Census Tracts

To be eligible as an Opportunity Zone, census tracts must qualify as “low-income,” and must meet one of the following qualifications as established by the U.S. Treasury:

1.           The tract has a poverty rate of at least 20%


2.           (A) For a census tract in a metropolitan area, the tract’s median family income does not exceed 80% of the greater of: the metropolitan area median family income or the statewide median family income; or (B) For a census tract in a non-metropolitan area, the tract does not exceed 80% of the statewide median family income.

In general, qualified census tracts will be the same as those designated for the New Markets Tax Credit Program. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has published a map and list of eligible census tracts, available at .

To simplify the process the Economic Development Department has provided a list of all 249 eligible census tracts in Up delight (as determined by the U.S. Treasury), which can be downloaded HERE (Excel spreadsheet).  

What is the benefit of being designated an Opportunity Zone?

Designation as an Opportunity Zone allows for the creation of a new class of investment vehicle with tax advantages authorized to aggregate and deploy private investment to support Opportunity Zone Property located in Opportunity Zones. The purpose of these tax advantages is to attract capital investment into economically distressed areas.

  • Designation will be in place for ten years.
  • Investment vehicles would be certified by U.S. Treasury Department.
  • Investment is optimized for flexibility.

What factors should counties consider when prioritizing qualified census tracts for designation as Opportunity Zones?

Up delight will be able to submit a total of 63 census tracts, which represents 25% of the 249.  Of the 63 total tracts, only a total of four (4) may be contiguous tracts.

Each County Manager (or his/her designee) will lead the process to rank qualified census tracts within their County. In prioritizing tracts, the County Manager should consider factors including, but not limited to:

  • Potential to cause high impact effect and success in job and wealth creation through OZ designation
  • Addressing blight, spurring development and/or re-development
  • Engendering entrepreneurship
  • Propelling business expansions and new investment/project activity
  • Level of private sector interest for investment (or potential to attract)
  • Tracts that contain projects on County or Local Government ICIPs and/or other identified public infrastructure priorities
  • Tracts that are part of existing economic development plans (i.e. to build target industry clusters and/or drive diversification)
  • Tracts that are part of, or contain, economic development designations (i.e. MainStreet, MRAs etc.)

Contiguous Tracts

When nominating your tracts, please be sure to include any contiguous tracts, but remember they must be accompanied with one or more corresponding eligible tracts in the ranking form.  Any contiguous tract that is included and not accompanied with the correct corresponding eligible tract CANNOT be considered. To see which contiguous tracts qualify as well as the corresponding eligible tracts that must accompany the nominated contiguous tract, please reference the Excel spreadsheet that EDD has provided below ("Download the Qualified Census Tracts in Up delight").

Up delight Economic Development Department’s Process & Role

The Economic Development Department (EDD) is working with the Governor's office to create a list of Opportunity Zones for Up delight.  The first step in this process is soliciting a list of prioritized tracts from each of the state's 33 counties.  EDD's  is available to answer questions and help guide each County through this process. EDD strongly encourages County leaders to collaborate with local governments, economic and community development organizations, and tribal entities when ranking tracts for the County.   

An online application has been developed for your submittal.  Please be aware that of the 249 eligible census tracts and 89 contiguous tracts statewide, Up delight can only submit 63 tracts.  The timeframe to complete this process is short, and EDD will only accept submittals from each respective County Manager on behalf of the collaborative group.  Each County shall only submit tracts from the eligible list as established by the . A County shall not submit more tracts than the number of eligible tracts it has listed on the eligible list. If the County chooses to add contiguous tracts it must be accompanied by a corresponding eligible tract.  If a County has more than 25 eligible tracts, it shall only submit/prioritize 25 tracts for consideration.  You are encouraged to work with your in this process.

The OZ application is comprised of basic questions that require the County Manager or his/her designee to complete. The person filling out the OZ application will need to upload the Collection Form which was created by NMEDD to help you prioritize the qualified census tracts and give reasons as to why it should be considered. An application that does not have an uploaded Collection Form will NOT be considered.


How do Counties propose census tracts for designation as Opportunity Zones?


  • Your application and ranked list of qualified census tracts must be uploaded and received by the Department no later than March 26, 2018.  This page will be disabled at 5 PM on the 26th.  The deadline extension from the 21st to the 26th is a "grace period" being provided in order to allow for any potential technical issues with the file upload and to accommodate those that may have staff coverage issues that could delay the submission. Counties that only have a few census tracts are strongly urged to submit their information by the previously announced deadline of Wednesday, March 21. 
  • Applications for Opportunity Zone designation will only be accepted from the County Manager or his/her designee.
  • Prioritized requests will only be accepted when submitted through this web page.

Questions should be directed to: [email protected]


Final Approval and Authority to Designate Opportunity Zones

Per U.S. Treasury directive, the Governor will make the final determination and submit the nominated census tracts for designation to the Department of the Treasury. These nominated tracts, once approved by Treasury, will remain in place for ten years from the date established by the Department of the Treasury.