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 16 OZ communities in Central Appalachia, Opportunity Appalachia provides 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 Investor Convening, February 23-24, 2021– 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 $235M of new Opportunity Fund capital to 16 targeted OZ communities (many of which are ARC distressed counties and areas), structuring investments in 18 businesses and real estate projects that support strategies for economic restructuring and diversification, which will create 1,800 new jobs — over 70 of which 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!


Opportunity Appalachia investor outreach will occur through both an OZ Investor Convening February 23-24, 2021, and outreach and support from the Steering Committee and Technical Assistance providers.  The highly visible Investor Convening will be held 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.

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 if possible, site visits.

More information and to register for the Investor Convening, February 23 – 24, 2021 here.

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.

Selected Projects

Opportunity Appalachia Project Portfolio:

The following projects have been selected for the Opportunity Appalachia program.  (Investment Prospectus and pitch deck are available at Opportunity Exchange)

  • 20 Federal Place, Youngstown, OH.  $34M redevelopment of 330,000 SF historic downtown mixed use/community facility/retail site.  Project Sponsor: City of Youngstown.  TA Team: Steadfast City, Scarlett Oak Capital.
  • Blue Ridge Plateau Initiative, Fries, VA.  Pathogen Free Sheep Production / farming for Animal Derived Materials research and medical products markets.  TA Team: Matson Consulting, Merrik & Company, Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute.
  • Bristol Sports and Events Complex, Bristol, VA.  $15.6M new multi-use sports facility.  TA Team: People Incorporated Financial Services, Thrasher Engineering, Synergy Sports Advisors.
  • Canal Warehouse Restoration, Chillicothe, OH.  $8M redevelopment of 40,000 SF historic downtown Ohio & Erie Canal Warehouse to mixed-use retail/live-work spaces.  National Register of Historic Places.  Project Sponsor: City of Chillicothe.  TA Team: Sunday Creek Horizons, Thomas P Miller & Assoc.
  • Cohen Building, Grafton, WV.  $10M redevelopment of historic downtown building for use by identified for-profit and non-profit tenants.  Project Sponsor: Unleash Tygart, Inc. TA Team: People Incorporated Financial Services, Thrasher Engineering, CohnReznick.
  • Green Industrial Manufacturing Ecosystem Inc. (GIME), Struthers, OH.  $1.5M redevelopment of 6,000 SF former manufacturing facility, with three identified ‘green’ businesses as tenants.  TA Team: KO Consulting.
  • Hotel Swisher, Somerset, OH.  $3.2M historic boutique hotel, 15 rooms in downtown, locally owned, supporting tourism and outdoor recreation in drivable ‘gateway’ community adjacent to metros.  Project Sponsor: Village of Somerset.  TA Team: The Clay Christensen Group, LOCUS, Schooley Caldwell, HVS.
  • Micronic Technologies, Bristol, VA.  $3.75M investment in high growth award-winning water technology company.  TA Team: Genedge, Bear Technologies, PSP.
  • Morgan County Improvement Corporation, McConnelsville, OH.  22 Loft Style Apartments, $4.5M.  TA Team: Sunday Creek Horizons, Thomas P Miller & Assoc.
  • mount TERRA LLC, Bluefield, VA. Two projects: Virginia Ave Warehouse redevelopment and Virginia Ave Boutique Hotel.  $4M in downtown projects that supporting new anchor Fortune 50 tech business in Bluefield. TA Team: LOCUS Impact and Thrasher Engineering.
  • Prichard Revitalization, Huntington, WV.  $36M redevelopment of historic downtown property, 50,000 SF of tenants identified including healthcare provider, regional university, and includes 100 units of affordable/workforce housing.  Project Sponsor: City of Huntington.  TA Team: National Development Council.
  • Staats Building, Charleston, WV.  $6.6M redevelopment to 31,000 SF of mixed-use retail/housing for the 5-story historic structure, to include local foods / farmers market and artisan crafts.  TA Team: National Development Council, ZMM Architects, Terrell Ellis & Assc.
  • Thundercloud, Inc, Fiber Network and Data Center, Huntington, WV.  $20M fiber network and data center operated by local non-profit with support of leading community institutions.  TA Team: Blue Ridge Advisory Services Group, Center for Business and Economic Research – Marshall University Research Corporation.
  • Tygart Hotel, Elkins, WV.  $13M historic hotel redevelopment supporting tourism and outdoor recreation in drivable ‘gateway’ community adjacent to metros, for this 55-room hotel.  Project Sponsor: Woodlands Development Group, local CDC.  TA Team: The Mills Group, Steptoe Johnson, HVS.
  • Vaughan Furniture Building, Galax, VA.  $92M redevelopment of historic downtown anchor building, to include 220,000 SF of residential, and 220,000 SF of retail, commercial, business incubator, and event space.  Project Sponsor: City of Galax. TA Team: Summit Design and Engineering, Opportunity Virginia / LOCUS, National Main Street Center.
  • Zanesville Gateway Project 9118, Zanesville, OH.  Project Sponsor: City of Zanesville.  TA Team: Sunday Creek Horizons, Thomas P Miller & Assoc, MKSK Studios.

Program Participation (2019/2020)

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, 2020 5:00 pm ET
Applications must be submitted via the Online Application Form to be considered for program support.

Provision of Technical Assistance (2020/2021)

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. (RFQ applications are now closed)

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

  • OhioSE – 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: OhioSE, 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