The Opportunity Zone Investment Prospectus: Early Observations and Next Steps
Co-Authors: Bruce Katz, Rick Jacobs, & Aaron Thomas
As of March 2018, more than twenty-five cities have used the Investment Prospectus template created by The New Localism Advisors and Accelerate for America to develop their own versions of an Opportunity Zone Investment Prospectus. While cities have largely constituted the first wave of Prospectus adopters, the tool is already being applied at the metropolitan and neighborhood scales and could form a useful tool for states and rural counties.
This report shares our early observations emerging from this effort, including:
1. The Investment Prospectus has become a means for organizing disparate stakeholders in cities around common purpose.
2. The Investment Prospectuses created to date represent a diverse cross-section of urban communities, by population size, market condition and region.
3. The Investment Prospectuses share common typologies of Opportunity Zones, with similar spatial locations, market characteristics and competitive assets.
4. Many Investment Prospectuses have “gone the last mile” and identified concrete projects that are both investor ready and community enhancing.
5. The Investment Prospectuses have become a vehicle for mobilizing public, private and civic powers and resources in ways that can leverage the full economic and social impact of the Opportunity Zones incentive.
These early observations, in turn, inform the next stage of community action around Opportunity Zones. Five “next steps” are of critical importance.
1. The Investment Prospectus tool should be adopted by hundreds of communities, empowering cities to advance local priorities as well as exercise collective market power.
2. The Investment Prospectus tool, fully realized, should yield a major data dividend and reward cities that collect and marshal data in ways that unveil hidden market potential, catalyze private investment and drive inclusive growth.
3. The Investment Prospectus should drive a common methodology – a financing charrette – for public, private and civic practitioners to sit together and work through different financing scenarios for concrete deals that have the potential for transformative social impact.
4. The Investment Prospectus tool should drive a new system of community development that moves beyond the production and provision of affordable housing to include a focus on growing locally-owned businesses, equipping residents with the skills they need and building wealth.
5. The Investment Prospectus tool should enable broader health, energy and social outcomes for disadvantaged people and places.
The Investment Prospectus provides a new way for localities to think about their strengths rather than passively awaiting the market to decide how to deploy capital. We hope that these early observations and strategies for next steps helps communities make this new tool the norm rather than the exception.