Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks in a Meeting on Opportunity Zones

May 18, 2020

The President. Okay. Thank you very much. We're here talking about Opportunity Zones and other things having to do with economic development and also the inner cities. And Tim Scott—Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina—has been with us on Opportunity Zones from day one. He first approached me, and he mentioned it, and I loved the idea. And who knew it was going to be so successful, Tim. Right?

Senator Timothy E. Scott. Tremendous.

The President. So it's——

Sen. Scott. Thank you for your support.

The President. Well, thank you for your support and for your knowledge.

And if I might, I'd like to have Tim start off by saying a few words, and then Scott Turner, Executive Director, has done an incredible job. And, Scott, we'd like to hear from you too, okay?

Tim, please.

Sen. Scott. Well, thank you, sir. Mr. President, thank you for your commitment to all Americans. And truth be told, your commitment has gone beyond the voting booth. You're helping people because they're Americans, and you don't care whether they're Democrats or Republicans, whether they're Black or White, whether they're up or they're down, whether they're rich or they're poor. Your focus is making sure that America is healthier as we come out of this COVID-19. And I thank you personally for your support of all people, but specifically to the underserved community.

[At this point, Sen. Scott continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

And on the last one—the long-term structural change—I look at it from a connectivity perspective and choice perspective. So the connectivity—broadband—being incredibly important. I've heard you talk about that a thousand times, if I've heard you talk about it once. And then, from a choice perspective, whether it's charter schools or school choice, we have an opportunity to continue to change lives, and you've led on all those fronts. And I think we're going to see tremendous impact.

And certainly, my baby, of course, is opportunity zones.

The President. Right.

Sen. Scott. You have been front and center. And I'm sure Scott is going to talk a lot about Opportunity Zones. But you have assembled the kind of firepower that our Nation needs at a critical time. It's one of the reasons why we're going to have a V-shape as we hit August, September, October, November, in this economic recovery.

The President. Well, I think so. And you're seeing it maybe today for the first time, where not only are the markets up tremendously, but we've had tremendous—tremendously good and positive information on therapeutics, on cures, and on vaccines——

Sen. Scott. Yes, sir.

The President. ——from some of the most respected companies in the world and researchers and doctors and labs. And that's coming in, and I think you're very close to having a very, very positive situation. And you know, with it understood—and we always talk about it, Tim—when you lose one person to this, it's too many—just too many. And we're talking about thousands and millions of people throughout the world, on something that should have never happened.

Sen. Scott. Absolutely.

The President. It should have been stopped in China. It should have been stopped at the source. But it happened.

But they're coming out with tremendous—it's incredible what they can do. And I've seen results, and the results are staggeringly good. So I'm very happy.

And the market is up very big, and I think you're going to have a "V." I think it's going to be terrific. I think we're going to have a transition in the third quarter, Ben, and the transition is going to lead to a very good fourth quarter. And I think we're going to have a year next year—because of all the stimulus and everything else, and the pent-up demand—like you haven't seen in a long time.

Sen. Scott. Oh, my gosh, 2021 is going to be amazing.

The President. And the stock market is not very short of where it was with all that we went through. It's—and that means a lot of smart people are looking, and they're saying: "We're coming back. And we're coming back to that level." I think we're going to come back to greater than that level.

And we've learned a lot. One of the things we've learned is being reliant on ourselves. Don't be reliant on other countries and, frankly, maybe have different agendas. And frankly, there are plenty of them out there, so it's one of those things.

So this is a very big day. This feels much different than Friday. Friday is a different feeling than today. This is a very positive day.

Ben Carson, would you like to say a few words?

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Benjamin S. Carson, Sr. Well, first of all, thank you for redirecting us. You know, it was 3 weeks ago when you said the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council should refocus—not get rid of, but add to its plate focusing—on those individuals who are disadvantaged and are—and who have suffered the most.

And I think this epidemic that we're going through right now focused the light on the fact that there were some people who had significant disparities that put them at increased risk for the disease. So you asked us to really get to the bottom of that. And it's not just the fact that people have hypertension and diabetes and obesity and asthma. It's the things that create an atmosphere where those things flourish.

The President. Right.

Secretary Carson. And so we've been really concentrating on getting at the underlying causes. And I think, first of all, you know, between myself and Ja'Ron, Jared, and a few others, we've talked to hundreds of thousands of stakeholders across the country in various communities to find out from them what their perspective was, particularly in terms of the CARES Act and how it was impacting them and what could be done differently.

And we have discovered some things which we are in the process of correcting. Some of it will require legislative help, and you know, Senator Scott is all over that. We're—so I think that's going to get done. And the staff in all the agencies—you have 17 different agencies and councils who have been very much involved. Secretary DeVos have been very involved, particularly with the education, the broadband. The President. Good.

Secretary Carson. The fact that this whole pandemic has changed a lot of things. But we are looking for positive ways to take advantage of that. For instance, with education, now it's going to be possible to take the best biology teacher and put them in front of a million students instead of 30 students. So a lot of those people who were not getting a good education, we do this the right way, we can provide an excellent education for them.

The President. That's right.

Secretary Carson. Same thing for workforces. So we're looking at ways that we can take advantage of all these things. And this has been done very rapidly. Three weeks ago, you asked us to do this. And I just want to thank all the people who've been involved, all the primaries in the various agencies. Everybody has been incredibly responsive. And this is going to get done.

The President. Good. Thank you, Ben. Good job too. Thank you very much.

Scott Turner, would you say a little bit about Opportunity Zones and how that's all going?

White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council Executive Director Scott Turner. Yes, thank you. And, Mr. President, I want to thank you for the opportunity to—really to not just be a part of the team, but to lead and to shepherd the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council.

[Executive Director Turner continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

And, Senator Scott, thank you for your leadership. Economic development and community social impact—and that's what's been going on across our country. Yes, COVID is here, but our mission and the spirit is still the same, and now we're just going to ramp it up.

The President. Great.

Executive Director Turner. You know, and keep going. So——

The President. Thank you, Scott.

Executive Director Turner. You're welcome.

Secretary Carson. And, Mr. President, this is——

[Secretary Carson presented a document to the President.]

Executive Director Turner. Yes, that's the best practices.

Secretary Carson. Best practices. It shows you what's going on in all the Opportunity Zones. It's absolutely astonishing.

The President. Very good.

Secretary Carson. It's very entertaining reading.

The President. Very good.

Secretary Carson. But you'd be amazed at what's going on.

The President. That's good reading. Look at that. That's good reading. [Laughter] Let me just see something. Sixty-seven pages like that. [Laughter] I don't know. I'm not sure, Brooke, if I'm going to get to read all of it.

Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives Brooke L. Rollins. It looks——

The President. But I'm going to try. Assistant to the President Rollins. It looks—yes, very stimulating.

The President. I'm going to try.

Assistant to the President Rollins. For sure.

The President. Brooke, you have a few words?

Assistant to the President Rollins. You know, I've——

The President. Congratulations, by the way.

Assistant to the President Rollins. Oh, Mr. President, thank you so much. I think it's really important to note that, just 2½ months ago, at the end of February, we were celebrating, I think, African American History Month. And we had over 800 African American leaders from around this country, of course, pre-COVID. And we—you stood up in front of that group of men and women, and you talked about that. In just a few years, we had the lowest poverty rate in the history of our country for our African American population, our Hispanic population, our veteran population, our high school graduate population, our people with disabilities.

[Assistant to the President Rollins continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

Now they're in a tough spot again, but this is what this effort is entirely about, led by Dr. Carson, Senator Scott, and Scott Turner: How do we bring that prosperity not just back, but to even greater heights than it's ever been before? I know you like to use the "transition to greatness," and I think that's a hundred-percent accurate in this case, and this is what this entire effort is about. So thank you for convening this. Thank you for the redirection. And I know we're all really excited.

The President. We'll bring it back.

Assistant to the President Rollins. Yes, we will.

The President. We'll bring it back.

Assistant to the President Rollins. Yes, we will.

The President. Larry Kudlow, please.

National Economic Council Director Lawrence A. Kudlow. Just to add to what the others have said, I think it's a great project. I backed it wholeheartedly since the beginning. And Brooky mentions the low poverty rate we had before the virus struck and the low unemployment rate—and the low unemployment rate.

[Director Kudlow continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

And you know what, sir? Besides the stock market, there are little glimmers. I don't want to downplay the heartbreak, because the numbers are not good for this quarter—bad, bad pandemic contraction—but there are little glimmers. A lot of the unemployed are temporary. We're seeing evidence that gasoline demand is higher, that the Apple mobility charts are higher. That means more people are driving. We've seen the New York State Manufacturing Survey rise substantially. So there are little glimmers of hopes here and there.

The President. A lot of things—a lot of things happening. Oil is——

Director Kudlow. Yes, sir.

The President. ——back up to a point where the energy industry is going to be—it may be in very good shape very soon.

Director Kudlow. Yes. The President. So a lot of very important things are happening, and then the stock market sees it.

Director Kudlow. Yes.

The President. And that's why the stock market is up so big. So it's very good.

Director Kudlow. Thank you, sir.

The President. Thank you all very much. Thank you.

Q. Mr. President—[inaudible]—Attorney General Barr?

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:06 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his remarks, Secretary Carson referred to Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Ja'Ron K. Smith and White House Senior Adviser Jared C. Kushner.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in a Meeting on Opportunity Zones Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives