News Release 2020-96 | July 17, 2020
CHARLESTON, S.C.—Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks today joined Senator Tim Scott and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson to raise awareness of investment and lending related to Opportunity Zones, which also may receive credit under the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) new Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rule.
“Today, bankers, community developers, and advocates got together to explore how to green light projects that increase access to capital to meet local housing and community reinvestment needs,” said Acting Comptroller Brooks. “By combining incentives associated with Opportunity Zones and credit under the OCC’s new CRA rule, we have a powerful force for supporting underserved areas and creating sustainable change for communities in South Carolina and across the nation.”
The event brought together approximately 50 bankers, developers, and advocates from throughout the mid-Atlantic region and featured presentations on projects already underway, as well as the potential for additional initiatives that can include participation by small community- and minority-owned banks serving the area. The event also included remarks by Senator Scott, Secretary Carson, and Mr. Brooks, as well as a robust roundtable discussion of CRA lending and investment relationships in underserved markets and opportunity zones.
“I’d like to thank Secretary Carson and Acting Comptroller Brooks for making the trip down to South Carolina. Access to capital is a very important topic for people in underserved and minority communities across South Carolina and our nation, especially as so many are seeking to navigate economic challenges around the pandemic,” said Senator Scott. “As the author of Opportunity Zones, I created this initiative to ensure that families in distressed neighborhoods across the country had access to and could utilize the resources needed to climb out of poverty and build towards economic success. Being raised in a single-parent household, I understand the importance of educating the underserved and minority communities on financial literacy and ownership, which is a tool that many are denied in our struggling communities. Today’s conversations were encouraging, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this workshop yields results not only in South Carolina, but across the nation to provide a hand-up towards economic opportunity.”
“The Charleston community, and many others like it across the nation, have witnessed the revival of economic activity since the Opportunity Zone tax incentive was established by President Trump,” said Secretary Carson. “The new CRA rule will continue to draw bankers, lenders, and entrepreneurs to communities that are ripe with untapped investment and have grounds that are fertile with economic opportunity. Since day one, Senator Scott has been a champion for Opportunity Zones, and I am thankful to be with him and Acting Comptroller Brooks – who’s work identified this new way to support community development – today for these important discussions that will power capital investment in underserved communities.”
Presentations included a welcome from President and Chief Executive Officer of the South Carolina Bankers Association Fred Green and a discussion by PNC Bank regarding its investments in Opportunity Zones. A team from TD Bank and the International African American Museum also shared insight into the development of the museum, which highlighted how the project benefited from CRA credit and how similar deals could benefit under the OCC’s new CRA rule.
The OCC publishes a variety of resources supporting community development and revitalization.