Trump signs order aimed at revitalizing economically distressed communities

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at helping economically distressed communities, building off a provision in his tax-cut law.

The order creates a White House panel dubbed the Opportunity and Revitalization Council, which will be led by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonCarson's affordable housing idea drawing undue flak Overnight Energy: Trump EPA looks to change air pollution permit process | GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule | Green group sues EPA over lead dust rules Green group sues EPA over lead dust rules it says are too lax MORE and consist of representatives from 13 federal agencies.

At a signing ceremony at the White House, Trump called the council a "very big thing" and said that the council will help utilize government resources to rebuild “impoverished neighborhoods that have been ignored by Washington in years past.”

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A senior White House official said ahead of the event that the council will be tasked with helping to engage with members of government at all levels about how to use funds to boost low-income communities.

The executive order is designed to supplement a piece of Trump's 2017 tax-cut law known as opportunity zones. Under the opportunity zone program, investors can receive capital-gains tax breaks if they invest in distressed areas that were certified by the Treasury Department.

More than 8,000 communities nationwide, where nearly 35 million people live, are in opportunity zones. Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week Democrats push judge for quick action on Trump tax returns lawsuit Five key players in Trump's trade battles MORE has said that he expects that there will be about $100 billion in private capital invested in the zones.

Mnuchin, Carson and several other administration officials attended the executive-order signing, as did Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottIt's time to empower military families with education freedom GOP Sen. Tim Scott says if he runs in 2022 it will be his last race When it comes to student debt, it is time to talk solutions MORE (R-S.C.) and several local-government officials and religious and business leaders.

The new White House council will aim to streamline and target existing federal programs so that they benefit opportunity zones, examine legislative proposals and potential regulatory reforms, develop reports on ways to encourage investments in distressed communities, and work to ensure that the government can collect the necessary data so that it can measure the results of the opportunity-zone program and governmental actions, the senior White House official said.

"The whole goal is to, one, leverage this private sector economic incentive through opportunity zones, and two, create that public commitment from the federal government to ensure that that economic incentive helps all Americans and would create a robust private-public partnership to revitalize communities," said Ja'Ron Smith, special assistant to the president on legislative affairs.

The opportunity zone program was championed heavily by Scott while the tax law was being written, and the idea has some bipartisan support.

But the program has also faced some scrutiny. The Associated Press on Tuesday reported that Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpPresident tweets 'few work harder' than Ivanka, Jared Dick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Trump Jr. dismisses conflicts of interest, touts projects in Indonesia MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerPresident tweets 'few work harder' than Ivanka, Jared PETA billboard in Baltimore calls Kushner a 'rich pest' Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign MORE, the president's daughter and son-in-law who work at the White House, could end up benefiting financially from the program.

Updated at 3:51 p.m.