Opportunity Appalachia

Bringing Opportunity Zone investment to Central Appalachian coal-impacted communities, creating new jobs and businesses that support sustainable growth.

Program Partners


The new Opportunity Zone (OZ) tax program is anticipated to provide billions of dollars of new investment to low-income communities throughout the nation. Knowledgeable observers anticipate that much Opportunity Fund capital will be invested in gentrifying communities in growing urban areas. In addition, smaller cities such as Louisville KY, Cincinnati OH, and Erie PA have already developed robust strategies to attract Opportunity Fund capital. Rural OZs are at a distinct disadvantage in attracting this financing as they 1) have fewer resources to enable them to develop community strategies and package transactions to potential investors, and 2) have investment opportunities that often provide lower rates of financial return then do faster-growing cities.

Opportunity Appalachia Program

For a group of fifteen to twenty OZ communities in Central Appalachia, provide technical assistance to both develop community strategies and structure investable transactions, creating prospectus and pitch decks targeting Opportunity Fund (QOF) Investors. Once these prospectuses are complete, outreach to Opportunity Fund investors – including the hosting of a highly visible investment event – to review a portfolio of OZ investments in Central Appalachia that provide both robust social and sufficient financial return.

Opportunity Appalachia is projected to bring $7.5M of new Opportunity Fund capital to 15 targeted OZ communities (many of which are ARC distressed counties and areas), structuring investments in 15 businesses and real estate projects that support strategies for economic restructuring and diversification, which will create 720 new jobs — 10% of which (70 jobs) are projected to be for persons in recovery from substance abuse. Investment priorities include projects focusing on downtown development, manufacturing, IT, healthcare, education, food systems, clean energy, heritage tourism, and recreation.

Opportunity Appalachia has been recognized as a leading OZ Catalyst by Forbes in The Forbes OZ 20: Top Opportunity Zone Catalysts.  This selection was made through a partnership between the Sorenson Impact Center and Forbes recognizing community organizations and OZ Funds that are committed to achieving equitable economic growth in underserved communities. We are pleased that Opportunity Appalachia has been selected as one of top OZ efforts focusing on community impact in the nation!

Target geography

Central Appalachian Opportunity Zones – Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia

158 OZs in Central Appalachian coal-impacted communities in WV, OH and VA.

An interactive map of OZs is available here.

Program Participation

To participate in Opportunity Appalachia and receive technical assistance for project prospectus development and support for OZ capital raising, we encourage you to:

  • Join the informational webinar, December 9, 2019. See Webinar information below
  • Attend state outreach events in Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia, to be held January 2020. See dates and venues below.
  • Submit the Opportunity Appalachia application to participate, see below for the link to the application and submission dates. It is anticipated that 15 communities/projects/businesses will be selected to participate in the Opportunity Appalachia program. If you have questions about the application, please contact the lead state partner in your state, see below.

Opportunity Appalachia welcomes applications targeting one OZ community and welcomes applications targeting several OZ communities/counties that have compatible development strategies. Opportunity Appalachia will review applications with one or more OZ projects identified for investment.


Application Deadline: March 2, 5:00 pm ET
Applications must be submitted via the Online Application Form to be considered for program support.

Provision of Technical Assistance

The types of technical support to be provided by the Opportunity Appalachia program include:

  • development of investment prospectus, preparation of pro forma financial projections, structuring of projecting financing,
  • market research
  • demand assessment, operations planning, identification of project developers business operators, outreach for project finance
  • outreach to OZ investors
  • other types of assistance.

This support will be provided on contract by experienced business and development partners. It is anticipated that support of $30,000 – $75,000 will be provided for each applicant, averaging $50,000 per applicant.

Entities interested in providing Technical Assistance must complete the Request for Qualifications RFQ, below.

Support for Capital Raise

Opportunity Appalachia investor outreach will occur through both an OZ Investor Convening event, and outreach and support from the Steering Committee and Technical Assistance providers.  A highly visible Investor Convening will be held in Appalachia to highlight OZ communities and related investable transactions.  Pre-vetted National Impact investors and Opportunity Funds (QOFs) with compatible interests will be invited to attend.  A curated web-based platform hosting prospectus / pitch decks will be available to assist investors pre-event.  The event will include pitches from investment-ready OZ communities as well as site visits.  

TA providers and the Steering Committee will also leverage their local and national relationships to introduce promising community transactions to vetted and interested investors.  These outreach and placement efforts will involve support for introductory meetings and site visits.

Program Manager & Steering Committee

The Opportunity Appalachia Steering Committee is comprised of the following six regional and national organizations:

Program Manager

  • Appalachian Community Capital (ACC), a 20-member CDFI intermediary whose members and their affiliates manage over $1 billion in assets supporting economic development in Appalachia.

Lead State Partners – Lead Community Development State Partners

  • Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) – The lead regional economic development organization in Eastern and Southern Ohio working in a 25 county area, supported by Jobs Ohio.
  • Opportunity Southwest Virginia / UVA – Wise – Pilots the way for 19 counties and scores of communities in Southwest Virginia to support economic and community development efforts to create thriving entrepreneurial communities that accelerate progress for both new and established ventures.
  • West Virginia Community Development Hub – the leading community development organization in West Virginia, has worked with over 40 small communities across the state.

National Technical Assistance Providers

  • Main Street America With a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, MSA works to successfully transform communities and revitalize local economies.
  • Coastal EnterprisesCCML, This leading national rural CDFI has deployed over $1.3 billion in financings directly and through CEI Capital Management (CCML) its New Markets Tax Credit CDE affiliate.

Local Partners

In addition, in each community/state there are capable partners that can be engaged to support OZ activities at the local level. Local OZ communities may select these local partner organizations to provide technical assistance for their OZ efforts, may select other capable and vetted regional or national organizations, may select the above Lead State Partners or National Technical Assistance Providers for this support, or some combination thereof. Local Partners can be engaged as needed/requested by local OZ communities.

State collaborators and planning partners informing activities in each state include:

Ohio: APEG, Governor’s Office of Appalachia, Ohio Development Services Agency, Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership & Public Affairs, Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC), Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA) and Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

Virginia: UVA-Wise, LOCUS, Opportunity Virginia, VA Department of Housing and Community Development, LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission, Thomson Charitable Foundation, City of Wise, People Inc, Coalfields Economic Development Authority, Virginia Community Capital.

West Virginia: WV Community Development Hub, West Virginia Development Office, WV Municipal League, New River Gorge Development Authority, Advantage Valley, City of Huntington, City of Charleston, WV Forward, WV Brownfields Center, West Virginia University, U.S. Senators Manchin and Capito offices, Benedum Foundation.

State Outreach Meetings

To learn more about the Opportunity Appalachia program, please attend a session.

Program Launch Webinar

December 9, 2019, 2:00 – 3:00 pm

Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas will open this Webinar, which will provide an overview of the Opportunity Appalachia program and present how your community and OZ project can participate.

Webinar Slide Deck

West Virginia

January 13, 2020

Bridgeport Conference Center, Bridgeport, West Virginia
Sen. Shelly Moore Capito and Sen. Joe Manchin have been invited to open the program.

Agendas will be available shortly for these State Outreach and Information Meetings.

Program Agenda Program Presentations


January 14, 2020, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Marietta, Ohio
John Carey, Director – Governor’s Office of Appalachia will open the program. (Snow date: January 27.)

Registration and agendas will be available shortly for these State Outreach and Information Meetings.

Program Agenda (with links to presentations)


January 27, 2020, 10:00 am – 2:00pm

Higher Education Center, Abingdon, Virginia
Erik Johnston, Director – Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development has been invited to open the program.

Program Agenda Program Presentations