Vice President Mike Pence lauded the success of one of America’s first Opportunity Zones created under the Trump administration from South Carolina Thursday.
Pence thanked Bishop Freeman and the group gathered Thursday for coming together at the Meeting Place Church to celebrate the partnership between local businesses, the church, and state and local leaders.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) advocated for the opportunity zone concept on the floor of the Senate. Pence remarked that he and Scott bonded early on over their affinity for Bush administration Housing and Urban Development Sec. Jack Kemp and his push for Opportunity Zones.
“Opportunity Zones — those of you not fully aware — are areas of the country that for too long have been left behind,” said Pence. “Many of the nearly 35 million Americans who live in these places still struggle to find work, to make ends meet.”
The vice president remarked of the 5.3 million new jobs created since President Donald Trump was elected and the nearly five million Americans who have gotten off of food stamps.
Pence pointed to reforms under the Trump administration fueling economic growth and legislation that included the “Opportunity Zones” provision. “Senator Tim Scott was the champion of this transformational reform,” Pence said to applause.
“This program encourages private new investment in areas that start business, rebuild infrastructure, unlock hidden potential,” said Pence. He pointed to the congregations and businesses that came together to produce “one of the very first Opportunity Zones to roll out in America since this legislation was signed into law.”
“After 11 years of abandonment, the Capital 8 theater is a reality. And it’s creating jobs and opportunity and energy in this growing community,” Pence said to applause. “Opportunity Zones help address unique needs by forming partnerships between the federal government with regard to tax benefits, state and local leaders, and local investors to create that incentive that makes it even more possible for people to invest at the point of the need.”
The vice president referenced words from president Trump and the president’s establishment of the “White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council — which is going to be coordinating efforts and identifying Opportunity Zones all across the country.” He quoted Trump, “No citizen will be forgotten, no community will be ignored…no American will be left on the sidelines. [We] must unlock the potential of all our people, not just some of our people.”
Pence credited the vision of Sen. Scott and “ingenuity and determination of this great community” for the area’s resurgence.
“It’s evident to me everywhere I’ve gone, since I arrived here at this place, is the faith of the people in this community. It radiates from everybody I’ve spoken to and it’s deeply inspiring,” he added to applause from the community.