Indiana University and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration have launched a new online mapping tool that will help business people find Opportunity Zones that aim to steer private investment toward economically distressed areas.

The Opportunity Zone initiative passed in 2017 grants capital gains tax cuts and deferrals to investors in designated Opportunity Zones, which locally include portions of Gary, Hammond, East Chicago, Valparaiso, Michigan City and LaPorte.

“This tool links and leverages two EDA initiatives to support private Opportunity Zone investment: the large project-based investments in distressed communities and providing the data, tools and analytical resources for economic development through StatsAmerica,” said Timothy Slaper, co-director of the Indiana Business Research Center at IU’s Kelley School of Business. “Having private Opportunity Zone investment piggy-back on EDA’s community investment would be a force multiplier.”

The website features a map that helps people identify more than 8,760 Qualified Opportunity Zones, where they get tax incentives for making long-term investments in low-income, economically distressed communities.

“This new web-based mapping tool will help investors and economic developers target investment toward Opportunity Zones to effect positive, socially-conscious change in these communities," U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fleming said.

The Economic Development Administration said it has invested about $347 million in 239 projects in or around Opportunity Zones across the country.

To view the online tool, visit www.statsamerica.org/opportunity/map.aspx.

Gallery: Indiana University Northwest Graduation 2016