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.
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.
Opportunity Appalachia Project Portfolio:
The following projects have been selected for the Opportunity Appalachia program. (Investment Prospectus will be available later in 2020)
To participate in Opportunity Appalachia and receive technical assistance for project prospectus development and support for OZ capital raising, we encourage you to:
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.
The types of technical support to be provided by the Opportunity Appalachia program include:
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)
The Opportunity Appalachia Steering Committee is comprised of the following six regional and national organizations:
Lead State Partners – Lead Community Development State Partners
National Technical Assistance Providers
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.
More information on Opportunity Zones