To High Impact, it’s clear that mission-focused stakeholders will need to proactively engage with the Opportunity Zones program to ensure the program delivers on its promise of meaningful job creation and economic development for low-income communities. Unlike other tax incentive programs like New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) or Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs), the Opportunity Zones program will not regulate investment through specialized financial intermediaries or an application process. Unencumbered by these restrictions, investment will flow towards projects and geographies that promise the greatest expected return.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to release a series of posts on Opportunity Zones geared toward CDFIs, impact investors and community organizations who calculate returns not only in dollars earned, but in jobs created, improved infrastructure and units of quality, affordable housing built. Over the coming weeks, we’ll seek to provide community stakeholders with the information they need to understand the program, communicate with potential investors and steer the program towards generating real returns for communities, not just investors.
For our readers who aren’t familiar with the Opportunity Zones program, great resources already exist covering the program’s structure. The IRS (link) and the Economic Innovation Group (link) provide solid background information on the program and for those looking to identify and pull information on the Qualified Opportunity Zones within their states, Enterprise Community Partner’s Opportunity360 tool (link) is a great resource.
In our next post, we’ll start by taking a look at the tax incentives offered through the Opportunity Zones program and release a model that will help clarify their implications for an investor.