The investment initiative was adopted from a proposal by the Economic Innovation Group, a think tank started by the Silicon Valley mogul Sean Parker. Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, championed the zones in the tax debate, as did Kevin Hassett, the chairman of Mr. Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers.
Mr. Hassett said that the administration “wants to create a race” for investors to pour money into the zones most in need of economic revitalization. He said the concept had helped energize philanthropists and investment professionals who worry about parts of the country being left behind economically and may need some incentive to direct their dollars there.
“If you talk about geographic inequality, and if you ask people in whatever audience you’re in, who here wants to try to help these places, everybody sticks their hand up,” he added. “But if you ask who has an idea how to help, no one does.”
The zones, and the administration’s commitment of public support for them, will give those people “a device to help the places they care about, maybe for the first time,” Mr. Hassett said.
Officials said the new council would need to decide whether to prioritize the hardest-hit opportunity zones for federal aid, or to keep the focus broadly on all zones, including those that may have pockets of economic success.
Along with Long Island City and several gentrifying portions of Washington, several other zones have prompted criticism. Those include zones that Bloomberg News and The Associated Press found contain properties owned by the family of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a White House adviser.
Administration officials still must finish what is expected to be two more rounds of regulations that will govern the zones and the funds that invest in them. Investors have warned that those regulations could unfairly narrow or expand the types of projects that will be incentivized by the zones.
An administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Tuesday that the coming regulations would include a provision that analysts at the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress and elsewhere have pushed for: reporting requirements for investments in the zones, which would allow economists to evaluate whether the program was having an impact.