Opportunity Zones Investor Council Develops New Approaches to Community Investment

July 2, 2019 | Elizabeth MacBride & Jen Collins

Here at The Beeck Center, we’ve convened the Opportunity Zone Investor Council (OZIC), a group of first mover fund managers, investors and developers working in Opportunity Zones across the country. The council aims to think, act and collaborate differently as one of the most important community development movements in a half-century takes shape.

OZIC will work to drive positive outcomes in underinvested neighborhoods and to create and test new models of community investment, aided by new Opportunity Zone tax breaks. Launched with 15 members, the Council includes: Access Ventures, Arctaris Capital Management, Beekman Advisors, Blueprint Local, Capital Impact Partners, Enterprise Community Investment, Goldman Sachs, Heritage Equity Partners, Lela Goren Group, LISC, MCB Real Estate, Obsidian Investment Partners, Our Opportunity, and Think Food Group. 

The council is a platform to learn and collaborate with peer investors, to incubate new ideas and to exchange best practices. At the Beeck Center, we are focused on outcomes, data, and fair and ethical financial practices.  This makes our center the ideal place to host the council. Members will have access to tools, experts and the collaborative thinking that helps drive social impact and innovation.

At its first meeting in late June, Council members discussed practical ways to adhere to the OZ Impact Reporting Framework guiding principles: community engagement, equity, transparency, measurement, and outcomes. The next meeting is planned for October.

Pictured: Beeck Center Fellow, Jen Collins facilitating council session.

As they begin the collaborative work of real estate and business investments, OZIC members reported a handful of common concerns in the over 8,700 distressed census tracts that qualify for Opportunity Zone tax breaks. There’s no lack of capital, but finding real projects that meet the risk/return profiles sought by impact investors is emerging as a top concern.

OZIC members share a fundamental optimism about the future and the possibility for Opportunity Zones to change the game of community investment. Among the developments, OZIC members expect to see: 

  • Innovative structures and ways to combine Opportunity Zone benefits with other community tools and programs
  • Models for community engagement that work across geographies and across sectors
  • New approaches to impact investing, as Opportunity Zones draw real estate developers and investors who are new to community investment and impact investing.
  • New methods of describing the process of impact investment, and new measures of impact and outcomes.

We are pleased to provide the platform for distinguished investors and developers to gather. We’re looking forward to the first announcements of Opportunity Zone deals that drive positive outcomes in underinvested American neighborhoods.