When the federal Opportunity Zone incentive went into effect in January 2018, we recognized that it was imperfect and that, unless local communities were able to actively steer capital, investments would naturally be made in ways that would simply benefit wealthy outside investors. So, in February 2018, we engaged Bruce Katz and the late Jeremy Nowak to help the Accelerator provide local communities with tools and technical assistance to steer investment capital into investments that would create wealth for existing residents of underserved communities, while at the same time providing an attractive return for investors.
We developed the Investment Prospectus tool for local communities to organize themselves and take advantage of the legislation, which has now been utilized by more than 50 cities. We help attract Opportunity Zone investments that benefit underserved communities and not just wealthy investors. We also provide technical assistance, best practices, and a network within which to work.
As we continue to grow the impact of our work, we are experimenting with how to leverage the Prospectus to create wealth-building tools and inclusive investment vehicles beyond Opportunity Zones. We seek to change the paradigm of Community Development (focused on buildings) to Community Wealth (focused on people). Our team works closely with Blueprint Local, Shift Capital, the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University and others as we codify these new norms. We are highly collaborative and have numerous partnerships that reach across the nation.