The Rockefeller Foundation will spend $5.5 million to help cities take advantage of the opportunity zone program created in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The initiative will give six cities funding for a Chief Opportunity Zone Officer to be embedded in the city government, as well as community engagement specialists who can coordinate investments that will help the community.
Separately, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Accelerator for America announced they will partner to help direct opportunity zone investment to distressed communities. The partnership includes an $850,000 grant from the Mastercard Impact Fund, as well as data science work, economic development tools and research.
Likewise, the Mastercard initiative is designed to bring more data and inclusivity to governments’ oversight and mobilization of opportunity zones. Accelerator for America has already been working with South Bend, IN; Louisville, KY; and Oklahoma City to help them target opportunity zone incentives to low-income communities, which they hope can be a model to other cities. Given the uncertainty around the new program, more institutional support will be helpful to ensure that investments are effectively targeted that new spending goes to areas of need.