The public figures brought together by interest and excitement in Opportunity Zones make for a diverse lot. There’s David Robinson, the ten-time NBA All-Star and Founder of Admiral Capital, and “T. I.” Harris, the rapper and entrepreneur, alongside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. Other notable attendees who spoke to the Sorenson Impact Center at the Forbes Opportunity Zones Summit in Newark this May included JD Vance, a venture capitalist and the author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” and Shamina Singh, Founder and President of the Center for Inclusive Growth and a Mastercard Executive Vice President, among others. Despite their diverse backgrounds, these individuals all spoke to a common theme: the potential for Opportunity Zones to unite communities and empower them to shape their own future. As stated by Mayor Garcetti, “If this is a platform for us to be more engaged with each other, to learn that indigenous knowledge but also empower those local people, then Opportunity Zones will be worth it.”
These key figures are not alone; an entire constellation of organizations and resources have crystallized around realizing Opportunity Zones’ potential. Emphasizing the need for policymakers to provide stakeholders with the tools and resources to attract investors and advocate for community interests, the Impact Investing Alliance collaborated with the Beeck Center at Georgetown University to create the Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework, which is designed to help Opportunity Funds measure the impact of their investments. Other resources include Accelerator for America’s Investment Prospectus Guide, Smart Growth America’s Equitable Investment Atlas, the Urban Institute’s tract-level data and state by state analysis, and the Opportunity Exchange’s marketplace of proposed community investment projects. The wealth of data and information available to the public reflects the determination of many policymakers, impact investors, and thought leaders to promote equitable development and hold accountable those market actors who violate the spirit of the initiative.