On November 9, the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) hosted a webinar to discuss efforts to attract Opportunity Zones (OZ) investments to rural and emerging communities. 


Key Takeaways

Catherine Lyons, EIG’s Director of Policy and Coalitions, opened the webinar by sharing OZ updates and resources, including findings from Novogradac’s Opportunity Zones Investment Report – Data Through September 30, 2022. Lyons also shared a recent letter issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Financial Advisory Board that provided recommendations for how EPA can facilitate attracting private investment to OZs, and cited examples.

Rachel Reilly of Aces & Archers then provided a primer on OZ activity in rural and emerging communities, and shared an overview of the Sorenson Impact Center’s Rural Opportunity Zone and Recovery Playbook. The playbook provides a blueprint for economic developers and local leaders working to attract private investment for rural community development, and includes helpful information such as investor typologies, fund typologies, and sample capital stacks. 

Guest speakers Chris Montgomery of Four Points Funding (Four Points) and Sarah Brichto of SKB Solutions discussed their efforts to leverage the OZ policy in rural and emerging communities. 

Montgomery shared an update on Four Points Funding’s OZ activity to-date, and provided insights on the impact of their investments.

  • Four Points has invested in nearly 900 housing units and 450 outdoor hospitality units in Colorado communities outside the state’s metropolitan corridor, and has recently launched its fifth Opportunity Fund. 
  • The fund’s OZ activity is helping to strengthen local economies and expand housing options in communities with a dire need for more rental inventory. 

Brichto provided insights on the hurdles rural communities face in attracting outside investment (including OZ equity) as well as efforts to overcome those challenges, and highlighted a proposed OZ project in Switzerland County, Indiana. 

  • The scale of projects in rural communities, like those in Switzerland County, are often too small and/or risky for developers and investors. A lack of centralized decision making and channels for disseminating information can pose challenges in advancing community-led projects for investment consideration. 
  • Community and business leaders are working on a project to provide housing and improve the quality of life for local workers. The Markland Bridge Project is a proposed mixed-use development that will create affordable and workforce housing as well as on-site day care provided through the YMCA. 

Resources Discussed

Visit EIG’s OZ Resources webpage for additional information including deal profiles, mapped activity, and recordings of previous webinars. 

Opportunity Zones Rural America Community Development 

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