Former NFL Player Using Opportunity Zones to Revitalize Community


A former NFL linebacker is disproving the hard left’s contention that black Americans cannot fix their communities without the government pretending to do it for them. In fact, Derrick Morgan — who retired from the football field earlier this year — reveals that it is easier for Americans to solve their problems when the government isn’t actively meddling in their efforts. 


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in 2017 created the Opportunity Zones initiative which is designed to promote investment in poor rural and urban communities. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) was the primary lawmaker who championed the legislation, which will provide tremendous economic opportunities for the black community. It is this program that is enabling Morgan to use the free market to breathe life into Coatesville, PA, the city in which he was raised. 

The Opportunity Zones program is a community investment apparatus that provides incentives for investors to support low-income cities. Through the initiative, companies are allowed to reinvest unrealized capital gains into Opportunity Funds. These investors can defer their capital gains taxes for up to 10 years. These entities can also benefit from other tax breaks under the legislation. 



CBS News ran a report on Morgan’s efforts to rebuild his city, which has suffered from poverty and crime. In 2018, Coatesville was ranked in the 35 poorest cities in Pennsylvania. He explained why he is investing his time and money into his hometown. “Growing up in a place like Coatesville, as a kid, you’re like, ‘what are my options? Who are you? What’s going to be your mark on the world?’”

Morgan is a managing partner in the Kingdom Impact Fund, a network of investors working to affect positive change in disaffected cities. According to their website, their objective is to “invest with the community outcomes in mind first, giving power to the resident while ensuring that our social impact is both sustainable and measurable based on specific transparent reporting process.” 


In the video, Morgan details his reasons for taking up this endeavor. “I could complain about this, or I could be a part of an example of how to do this the right way.” The report also shows the condition of the city with its defunct steel mill that was the heart of the city’s economy in days past. Residents of the city told CBS News about how some NFL players make it big, but don’t bother to invest in their hometowns. 

Sen. Scott issued a press release discussing the CBS News report and celebrating Morgan’s work:

“The turnkey behind Morgan’s goal involves Sen. Tim Scott’s Opportunity Zones initiative. Through the use of the initiative, Morgan bought 25 acres of land and is planning to develop a health and wellness community center. His long-term goal is to see the legislation help to transform the entire area, and bring back hope and opportunity back into his hometown.” 

If used effectively, opportunity zones could be a key factor in rebuilding impoverished minority communities as well as low-income rural areas. Perhaps this is why some House Democrats might be attempting to sabotage the measure; we can’t have success from a program implemented by conservatives, can we? 

But there is another aspect to this story that conservatives shouldn’t miss. Morgan, a 30-year-old black man, is taking it on himself to affect change in his city. He has not asked the government to provide more welfare programs. He is not pushing for socialist policies. He is simply using a program that gets government out of the way by easing up on taxation for private entities willing to foster economic growth in low-income areas. This initiative makes it easier for Morgan, and other investors to revitalize their cities while also turning a profit. 


In essence, Morgan is using free-market principles to improve his city. It doesn’t get more conservative than that, does it? Now, here’s the thing. If Morgan is like 90% of black voters, he doesn’t like Trump. In fact, he probably votes Democrat if he votes at all. But he, along with many other black Americans, clearly has conservative tendencies. 

He’s not the only one.

T.I., a rapper-turned-businessman is also using Opportunity Zones to benefit his community in Atlanta. In fact, he met with Sen. Scott about doing this very thing. Killer Mike, another hip-hop artist, has amassed wealth that he uses to create jobs and economic opportunities in his city. Nipsey Hussle, who was murdered earlier this year, did the same before his death. Again, these individuals are not calling on the government to solve the problems in the black community; rather, they are using the free market to address the issues. 

Conservatives might have some political disagreements with people such as these, but if we want to reach black voters, wouldn’t it make sense to focus more on areas of commonality rather than dismissing them just because they don’t like Trump? Unfortunately, the president seems to have become a sort of litmus test when it comes to black Americans.

We love Kanye West for putting on the red hat, but if he spoke out against Trump, conservatives would never have  given him the time of day. Bob Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, is receiving plaudits from because he complimented Trump, but how would most of the right-wing chattering class view him if he hadn’t praised the president?


Is it wise to shun them because of a disagreement over a politician? It seems a bit shortsighted to me. The conservative movement claims to value diversity of thought. If this is the case, we shouldn’t be willing to engage with people who don’t agree with us on every single issue? 

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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