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Opportunity Zones and Urban Revitalization: a place-based approach to the emerging market

By Colin Higgins and Bruce Katz

November 4, 2019

Louisville, KY

Full Report: Opportunity Zones and Urban Revitalization: a place-based approach to the emerging market

Download the Executive Summary

Ensuring inclusive growth and community wealth creation in Opportunity Zones requires an understanding of how market potential connects with needed social impact and relies on a deep understanding of the underlying data which defines that potential.  To respond to this need, The Governance Project (TGP), Accelerator for America and Drexel University’s Nowak Metro Finance Lab released Opportunity Zones and Urban Revitalization: a place-based approach to the emerging market. The first-of-its-kind analysis works to correct common misperceptions of Opportunity Zones to reveal new insights and tools to best foster inclusive local development in communities across the country. 

Co-authored by Nowak Lab Director Bruce Katz and The Governance Project’s Colin Higgins, the report details national opportunity zone typologies and what they mean for stakeholders in the public, private and civic sectors. Three key findings illustrate to investors, economic developers and influencers what the majority of job-rich and investment ready opportunity zones across the nation look like:  

  • key geographical patterns that can help scale success while guarding against abuse
  • a place-based typology that can support a new place-based investment model
  • employment centers can play a vital role in making opportunity zones work for their communities

The report pairs its key findings with essential actions required by local communities to successfully attract the desired opportunity zone investments, requiring stakeholders to lower the rigid barriers of distrust that so often plague community development. The authors assert that the incentive’s flexibility is an asset in this process but only when paired with market transparency on small and large scales. In highlighting employment center Opportunity Zones, it is hoped that additional transparency that will guide the market towards patterns and routines that benefit whole communities.


Opportunity Zones and  Urban Revitalization was produced through the collaboration of Drexel's Nowak Metro Finance Lab, The Governance Project and Accelerator for America.