Pres­i­dent Trump to visit Bal­ti­more for first time since tak­ing of­fice

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Ian Dun­can and Jeff Barker

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will visit Bal­ti­more Wed­nes­day, his first trip to the city since tak­ing of­fice, the White House said Fri­day.

The trip is to pro­mote “op­por­tu­nity zones,” which were cre­ated by a Repub­li­can-backed tax law and are de­signed to en­cour­age in­vest­ment in and around strug­gling neigh­bor­hoods. The White House said the pres­i­dent will at­tend a roundtable with lo­cal lead­ers and may­ors.

Greg Tucker, a spokesman for Mayor Catherine Pugh, said she had been told about the planned visit by the Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment and had not per­son­ally been no­ti­fied by the White House.

A White House spokesman said Pugh was among a num­ber of lo­cal lead­ers who have been or will be in­vited.

The op­por­tu­nity zone pro­gram is one of the few as­pects of the tax bill that has sup­port from Democrats, and of­fi­cials in Bal­ti­more have said they hope to find ways to take ad­van­tage of it. Tucker said Pugh sup­ports the spe­cial tax ar­eas and called them “very im­por­tant for Bal­ti­more and her agenda of neigh­bor­hood in­vest­ment and re­vi­tal­iza­tion.”

State of­fi­cials des­ig­nated much of East and West Bal­ti­more as op­por­tu­nity zones this spring, along with neigh­bor­hoods such as Park Heights. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has cer­ti­fied com­mu­ni­ties in ev­ery state and the Dis­trict of Columbia as op­por­tu­nity zones.

The de­tails of the pro­gram are com­plex, but it in­volves giv­ing in­vestors sig­nif­i­cant tax ad­van­tages if they in­vest in spe­cial funds de­signed to steer money to projects and busi­nesses in the zones.

The White House said the tax pro­gram is de­signed “to ex­pand the eco­nomic boom to all Amer­i­cans, es­pe­cially those in distressed com­mu­ni­ties — both ru­ral and ur­ban.”

In De­cem­ber 2016, one of Pugh’s first ac­tions in of­fice was to press Trump for help with the city’s ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture. She met briefly with him at the an­nual Army-Navy foot­ball game, hand­ing him a let­ter de­tail­ing the city’s needs, as well as a Bal­ti­more pin.

“When he stepped out of his ve­hi­cle, I was the only elected of­fi­cial there,” Pugh re­called later. “He walked over to me and I said, ‘I am the mayor of Bal­ti­more,’ and he said, ‘I know.’ ”

That in­ter­ac­tion came af­ter a new City Coun­cil, in one of its first acts since tak­ing of­fice, for­mally con­demned the in­com­ing pres­i­dent.

Trump also came to Bal­ti­more in Septem­ber 2016 as a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date — at­tend­ing a Na­tional Guard As­so­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence.

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