On May 21st, 2019, Forbes and its policy partner, the Economic Innovation Group, held an Opportunity Zone summit in Newark, New Jersey which brought together hundreds of speakers and guests from the public, private, and non-profit sectors to examine the positive impacts that investments in the designated areas could have.
The attendees examined ways to increase economic potential in designated communities by leveraging the tax incentives in the Investing in Opportunity Act. In order to ensure that communities will benefit from investments in these opportunity zones, Prudential Financial, The Rockefeller Foundation, and The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Accelerator for America announced millions of dollars worth of grants. These grants are designed to promote investments which focus on businesses that will benefit the community and avoid negative repercussions such as gentrification of vulnerable neighborhoods. In addition to the grant opportunities, the summit outcomes emphasized the value of coordination between the private and public sectors as a key factor in spurring investments that contribute to the community.
Following the Opportunity Zone Summit, Prudential Financial and The Rockefeller Foundation awarded Newark with a two-year grant worth $920,000. A portion of this grant will be allocated towards employing a chief Opportunity Zone officer and two community engagement specialists who will help prioritize investments that will have the most beneficial impact on the area. Along with Newark, five other cities, which are yet to be announced, will receive a similar grant. In total, the grants will be worth $5.5 million.
The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Accelerator for America also awarded Newark a grant following the Opportunity Zone Summit. This grant is for $1 million and will similarly go towards personnel and research to help the city identify, prioritize, and implement beneficial investments. Specifically, $850,000 of this grant will be put towards helping 50 city officials capitalize on the Opportunity Zone incentive and the rest will fund extensive data science research, economic growth tools, and research in regards to which areas of investment will impact communities the most.
Sources and Further Reading
Rockefeller Foundation, Mastercard Announce Opportunity Zone Initiatives – SmartCitiesDive