By Rachel Reilly

On October 22, the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) hosted a webinar for state and local leaders engaged in Opportunity Zones efforts to provide insights on peer-led initiatives and updates on strategies for attracting community-centered investment. EIG was joined by guest speakers South Carolina State Representative Marvin Pendarvis and Dan Carol and Ragini Chawla of the Milken Institute.

View presentation slides, a recording of the webinar, and EIG’s key takeaways for more information.

Key Takeaways

State-level legislation enhances OZ benefits to drive outcomes

  • South Carolina State Representative Marvin Pendarvis spoke about his vision for Opportunity Zones, which was informed by discussions with OZ leaders in Washington, D.C., MD, and AL. 
  • He shared an overview of the goals and measures outlined in the South Carolina Opportunity Zones Enhancement Act, which provides state-level incentives for OZ investment aligned with public priorities. 
  • Representative Pendarvis is working with a bipartisan group of legislators to pass the bill in 2021, and noted that interest in OZs is as high as it has ever been across key stakeholder groups.

Playbook for state and local leaders

  • Dan Carol and Ragini Chawla presented the Milken Institute’s playbook for state and local leaders, From Recovery to Resilience: How Opportunity Zones can Help Accelerate Post-COVID Economic Resurgence
  • Remarks were focused on the importance of helping OZ project sponsors and investors identify additional sources of financing to advance projects and close capital stacks. 
  • They offered strategies for securing predevelopment funding and engaging local community finance intermediaries, like Minority Depository Institutions and Community Development Financial Institutions. 

Strategies for advancing child well-being and development

  • EIG shared key findings and strategies outlined in Advancing education and child development in Opportunity Zones and Strategies for hosting an Opportunity Zones convening, a recent project supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. 
  • More than 7.5 million children live in Opportunity Zones and investment can be leveraged to expand and improve spaces for learning and care, strengthen businesses that serve low-income children, and build local workforce capacity. 
  • The report provides strategies that can be employed by state and local leaders, and Mike Landes from Colorado’s Office of Economic Development & International Trade provided the example of a childcare provider participating in the state’s Opportunity Zone Capital Accelerator Program. 

EIG’s OZ Webinar Series:

EIG hosts a monthly OZ Webinar Series to provide Opportunity Zones strategies and insights from around the country. Topics include an introduction to Opportunity Zones, an analysis of the final regulations, emerging best practices in heartland, rural, tribal and Main Street areas, and examples of OZ activity in operating businesses, in affordable housing, and from local anchor institutions

Rachel Reilly is the Director of Impact Strategy of Economic Innovation Group.

Opportunity Zones 

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