On Wednesday at the Global Resilience Institute, Northeastern University graduate students presented their final capstone project to GRI researchers and staff and members of the Institute on Race and Justice Community Advisory Board. The team of masters students – consisting of Sheela Hidalgo, David Finnerty, Mark Phillips, Adrian Clarke, and Mahdi Warsama – worked with GRI over the spring semester to produce a report detailing the economic landscape of Roxbury, describing what facets of policy, culture, and economics affect the investment potential of the neighborhood. They compiled data on three key sectors – governance, private sector development activity and community investments – and recommended action items that could be taken immediately and others that could be implemented over the next 5 years, including the formation of partnerships, an Opportunity Zone advisory committee, and increased job training programs.

GRI Capstone
Mark Phillips, a graduate student in Northeastern’s College of Social Science and Humanities, discusses resilience factors affecting Roxbury Opportunity Zones (Source: GRI)

This is part of ongoing work at GRI to apply a process for evaluating the resilience of Economic Opportunity Zones, low-income census tracts recently designated by the state as areas for tax-reduced investments. The tax regulations that created the Opportunity Zones do not include guidance on how the funds should be used, but GRI aims to fill this knowledge gap by providing data-driven research on enhancing the resilience of the zones. The process used by the Capstone students to generate this Investment Landscape report may be replicated in other Opportunity Zones as part of the GRI Resilience Assessment, providing a key tool to view potential investments through a lens of resilience. The students’ report centers on two adjoining Roxbury census tracts in Lower Roxbury and Madison Park/Dudley Square that are designated Opportunity Zones and currently being analyzed by GRI. The students’ final report will become part of GRI’s assessment of these zones, evaluating the intersection of physical, social, and economic factors of resilience.   

For more about the Global Resilience Institute’s Resilience Enhancement System, please GRI’s Opportunity Zone website.