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EIG Webinar Series: Anchor Institutions as Opportunity Zones Early Adopters and Agents for Change

Nov 6, 2019

On October 30th, the Economic Innovation Group hosted a webinar to discuss how various types of anchor institutions can add value to Opportunity Zones in their community. EIG highlighted examples of ways in which universities, hospitals, major employers, and faith-based organizations are leveraging their social and financial assets to both strengthen the communities they touch as well as further their missions.

A recording of the webinar can be found here.

Anchor institutions can have an outsized impact on the prosperity of their local communities and residents, because once established, they tend to remain in the same location for decades, wielding tremendous social and economic influence. 

In the webinar, Rachel Reilly and Catherine Lyons identify five ways in which anchors are interacting with the emerging Opportunity Zone ecosystem: 

  • Participating in the investment capital stack 
  • Influencing investment decisions 
  • Leveraging real estate assets and “purchase power” 
  • Convening stakeholders and build community capacity
  • Supporting OZ strategies, implementation, and ongoing analysis

For each theme, examples of current market activity and engagement were provided, such as: 

  • MetroHealth’s $60 million Opportunity Zone investment in Cleveland to support affordable homes and a new center for job training. 
  • The creation of a new teaching hotel in Tuscaloosa, AL spearheaded by Stillman College and supported by the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Opportunity Fund. 
  • Purdue University’s partnership with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to provide technical assistance to six communities in Indiana through the newly formed Rural Opportunity Zones Initiative.  
  • The revitalization of property owned by The Meeting Place Church of Greater Columbia to create entertainment options for their community. 

These early examples demonstrate that when anchor institutions take a leadership role in advancing Opportunity Zone investments and strategies, they can maximize their financial resources, leverage their purchase power, improve existing real estate, and deploy their knowledge and talent to strengthen their surrounding communities and further their work. 

EIG’s OZ Webinar Series: This webinar is the sixth in a series EIG will host throughout 2019. These webinars address a variety of topics related to Opportunity Zones implementation, showcase best practices from around the country, and serve as a resource for investors, project sponsors, entrepreneurs, and community developers looking to use the incentive. So far, EIG has covered an introduction to Opportunity Zones, an analysis of the April 2019 round of regulations, community best practices in heartland, rural, and tribal communities, and an overview of Opportunity Zones investments in operating businesses

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