On November 18, the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) hosted a webinar launching “Delivering Opportunity,” an analytic and strategy playbook developed by EIG to help Indiana maximize the community and economic development impact of its designated Opportunity Zones. Following an overview of the report delivered by both Rachel Reilly and Kenan Fikri of EIG, we heard from guest speakers Emily Scott of LISC Indianapolis, Nathan Ringham of Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and Matt Gadus of House Investments, who provided perspectives on the innovative applications of this new investment tool.
View a recording of the webinar and EIG’s key takeaways for more information.
Assessing the Opportunity Zones Landscape in Indiana
- With more than half a million people currently living in Indiana’s 156 Opportunity Zones, the new playbook crafted by EIG serves as a guide for local stakeholders in their efforts to map the role Opportunity Zones can play in the future of the state’s economy. In the report, EIG produced a classification of the state’s OZs across different typologies to
better target investment and impact strategies.
- In the report, EIG produced a classification of the state’s OZs across different typologies to better target investment and impact strategies. The report identified four key realms in which Opportunity Zones are primely positioned to help the state of Indiana to achieve its goals. In particular, the report laid out specifically how OZs can help advance the state’s efforts to:
- Build a dynamic and resilient economy;
- Create livable communities;
- Improve resident health; and
- Provide quality, affordable housing.
- While Indiana has been home to some of the most exciting OZ developments in the first few years of the policy, EIG’s report notes that the key to further strengthening local capacity and driving investment to overlooked opportunities across the state is by addressing existing knowledge gaps and engaging with local investors. The following are several strategies discussed during the presentation that may be employed by public and private sector leaders to maximize the success of the OZ policy:
- Establish a statewide Opportunity Zones coordinator;
- Create a centralized online directory of essential Opportunity Zones information;
- Enhance and align public resources to strengthen Opportunity Zones communities and shape the market; and
- Activate residents, businesses, and community stakeholders.
Constructing the Tools that Drive Impactful Investments
- During the presentation, Emily Scott of LISC Indianapolis outlined the key role that the Opportunity Investment Consortium of Indiana has played in connecting public and private partners with the capital and resources needed to drive impactful investments across the state. As one of the first of its kind in the country, the Opportunity Investment Consortium of Indiana’s platform and portal have provided a central location for communications and resources on OZs, allowing investors to connect with local projects in need of capital.
- House Investments’ Matt Gadus discussed his company’s use of the portal in their development of The Forge on Main, a project located in Evansville, IN, which is set to transform a currently vacant site into an apartment building with 180 units of workforce housing and 16,000 square feet of commercial space. Gadus emphasized that they view this project as having the potential to spur additional investment in the surrounding area.
Situating Opportunity Zones in the Policy Toolkit
- As the report acknowledges, OZs are well-situated to be one of a variety of instruments that help bolster economic and community development in Indiana. Nathan Ringham of Central Indiana Corporate Partnership underscored the importance of OZs as a place-based tool that can drive further strategic investments across the state.
- Ringham also highlighted the role OZs can play in bolstering advanced industries, which are associated with over 1 million jobs in the state of Indiana, and in boosting overall job quality in the state. OZs can be leveraged alongside other tools to incentivize place-making investments that are vital to attracting and retaining businesses, that in turn help ensure the state’s long-term economic prosperity.
For more information please check out EIG’s latest report “Delivering Opportunity.”