In March, Norfolk was the featured city at an Opportunity Zone Investor Summit organized by Accelerator for America, and more than 300 investors heard our story, as we presented our vision for investments in the St. Paul’s area.
What’s more, Accelerator for America, a consortium of mayors and urban and economic development experts, will attend, lending heft to this opportunity to raise and change Erie’s profile.
Recently, PolicyLink staff attended the Opportunity Zone Investor Summit hosted by Accelerator for America. The summit showcased a number of groups who are working to foster connections between cities, stakeholders, developers, and investors to advance inclusive Opportunity Zone projects. While most speakers expressed excitement for the potential of Opportunity Zones, participants acknowledged that the success of this tool will require that all stakeholders focus on the interests of the people whom this legislation was intended to serve—particularly low-income residents and people of color.
In early 2018, focus groups were already being organized among bankers, developers and others to discover the prime areas for Opportunity Zone designation. The city formed a prospectus outlining investment opportunities and statistics with help from organizations like Accelerator for America out of Los Angeles.
MasterCard’s philanthropic arm is partnering with the nonprofit Accelerator for America to use the company’s own access to spending patterns to paint a detailed picture of what’s happening in designated zones. The corporation’s Center for Inclusive Growth is creating a “scorecard” to show consumer spending data in the census tracts at frequent time intervals, Arturo Franco, vice president at the center, said during the March conference. The specifics of what figures will be collected and how are still in development, he said.
“Folks, take it from Accelerator for America. We’re working with 30 cities right now across America in opportunity zones and to all of them and to every city in America we say, ‘Look here at Birmingham,’” [ Mayor Eric Garcetti] said. “We have been blown away by the partnership, by the success of state and local folks across party lines coming together and do what’s right. Revitalizing an iconic part of this city – this metaphor for an American life and what America’s life can be like in the future – and making sure there is a return for investors while there is a return for community. It can be a win-win and Birmingham is showing us that way.”
On March 18, 2019 we had occasion to attend the Opportunity Zone Investor Summit sponsored by Accelerator for America and Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth; hosted by the Stanford Global Project Center.
Bruce Katz of Accelerator for America is a leader of the promotional movement. Katz has championed the idea of creating a prospectus that helps communicate what makes a city distinct and promotes the advantages of their OZs. Katz encourages localities to highlight potential projects and propositions, giving a unified vision to promote investment.
CalOZ’s first priority will be CalOZ for All, an initiative to promote adoption of high-impact state policies regarding opportunity zones, economic mobility and sustainable growth more broadly. Joining CalOZ will be a range of strategic partners with deep expertise in economic development, public policy, community development, green innovation, and impact investing, including California Forward, the California Business Roundtable, Central Valley Community Foundation, Bay Area Council, Sacramento Promise Zone, RevOZ Capital, Amalgamated Bank, the Governance Project, Fuse Corps, Accelerator for America, and Nationswell.
Accelerator for America is an organization leading the way in helping cities to achieve all that. It’s a nationwide consortium of “mayors and leaders from the labor, business and non-profit sectors” that supports economic development solutions across the country. Under its guidance, 30 cities to date have drafted Investment Prospectuses, clearly outlining their preparations for OZ impact.