Rep. Rice Urges Governor McMaster to Consider Seventh District Counties For Opportunity Zone Status


WASHINGTON – Opportunity zones are a new community development initiative established in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that will create long-term investment and economic development in low-income communities across the nation. The program provides tax incentives for individuals investing in opportunity funds, which are designed to fund development projects in distressed communities that qualify as opportunity zones. Eligibility for opportunity zone designation is based on employment and income statistics within individual census tracts throughout the state.  Each Governor has the authority to designate one quarter of qualifying census tracts as Opportunity Zones.

Before being added as a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) sponsored this legislation in the Senate and Congressman Tom Rice (R-SC) was a co-sponsor of a similar bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Rice sent a letter urging Governor McMaster to consider distressed communities in the Pee Dee and the Grand Strand for opportunity zones status. Additionally, Congressman Rice’s staff has worked closely with economic development officials in each county in the Seventh District applying for Opportunity Zone status.

“This program builds upon the wage growth and business investment we’ve experienced since the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and ensures these benefits reach communities that have been left behind” said Congressman Rice, “For far too long, the Pee Dee and the Grand Strand have lacked the prospects for jobs and economic growth that other parts of the country have enjoyed. I want to make sure we take full advantage of this opportunity to uplift the families and businesses across the Seventh District that need it most”

The full text of the letter is below: 

February 14, 2018


The Honorable Henry McMaster

State House

1100 Gervais Street

Columbia, S.C. 29201

Dear Governor McMaster,

I am writing this letter to call your attention to new federal tax policy that will give you the ability to uplift distressed communities through South Carolina, including the Seventh Congressional District.

The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act creates new provisions in the tax code to incentivize investment in distressed communities. These new provisions create areas called “opportunity zones,” which use tax incentives such as the deferral of federal capital gains tax to encourage long-term investment in low-income communities across America. Congress gave states the primary role in directing this new tax benefit to the places that need it most, by allowing the Governor to determine the location of opportunity zones. This determination must be made by March 21, with the opportunity for a one-time, 30-day extension. Eligibility for this designation is based on employment and income statistics within individual census tracts through the state, as determined by the most recent census data. As you make this decision, I respectfully ask that you consider and prioritize the distressed communities in the Pee Dee and Grand Strand, which rank as some of South Carolina’s most impoverished areas. 

Three of the top five most underserved counties in South Carolina lie within the Seventh Congressional District. Dillon, Marion, and Marlboro counties – commonly referred to as the corridor of shame – consistently have some of the highest unemployment rates and lowest average incomes in the state. More people in Dillon County live in poverty than in any other county in South Carolina. Excluding Florence County, nearly a quarter of Pee Dee residents live in poverty. Georgetown and Horry County unemployment rates are above the state average. These numbers only get worse as you break them out along demographic lines, with African-American unemployment rates in these counties particularly high compared to the all-time lows across the nation.

Since I came to Congress, I’ve constantly fought to help lift up the people all throughout my district, working to give new opportunity and hope to those that need it most. These South Carolinians have simply been left behind, including from existing geographically targeted federal incentives such as the South Carolina Low Country promise zone or the Columbia/Sumter empowerment community. I’ve worked hard to help foster economic development in the area through projects like the creation of the Dillon Inland Port. These counties could use every opportunity that is available to them.

At its core, this new law is designed to provide the same opportunity and hope that has been my primary focus since being elected to Congress to represent the people of the Seventh District. Accordingly, please let me know if I can provide any further information or assistance with regard to these counties between now and the March 21 deadline. The distressed communities in the Pee Dee and the Grand Strand need all of the help they can get, and I respectfully urge your consideration of these communities as you work to take advantage of this new tax incentive for our state.  I truly think that this incentive can make a big difference in this area and I look forward to working together to make this positive impact a reality.