OZ Pitch Day - July 20, 2023
Catalyzing Social Impact With Opportunity Zones, An OZ Pitch Day Panel
How effective has the Opportunity Zone program been at driving private investment into low income communities? What potential improvements could make the program even more effective?
Catherine Lyons, Director of Policy and Coalitions at the Economic Innovation Group, Rachel Reilly, founder at Aces & Archers, and Chris Cooley, CEO of OZworks Group, join the show to discuss how OZs are catalyzing social impact and what the future may hold for the program.
Watch On YouTube
- Overview of Economic Innovation Group, a bi-partisan organization that played a critical role in developing the Opportunity Zone incentive.
- The intent of Congress in developing the OZ program;
- Key findings from a recent study providing hard data on investment activity in Opportunity Zones;
- Examples of projects in Opportunity Zones driving social impact in a variety of different ways;
- The financial and business case for impact-driven and mission-oriented investing;
- Discussion of the types of communities that received investment through the first three years of the OZ program;
- Live Q&A with OZ Pitch Day attendees.
Featured On This Episode
- Examining the Latest Multi-Year Evidence on the Scale and Effects of Opportunity Zones Investment (EIG)
- Hope Manor Investment Profile (EIG)
- Annual Impact Report (Arctaris)
- New Legislation Would Extend and Improve Opportunity Zones (OpportunityDb)
- OZ Advocacy Toolkit (OpportunityDb)
Guests: Catherine Lyons, Rachel Reilly, And Chris Cooley
- Catherine Lyons on LinkedIn | Economic Innovation Group
- Rachel Reilly on LinkedIn | Aces & Archers
- Chris Cooley on LinkedIn | OZworks Group
About The Opportunity Zones & Private Equity Show
Hosted by OpportunityDb and WealthChannel founder Jimmy Atkinson, The Opportunity Zones & Private Equity Show features guest interviews from fund managers, advisors, policymakers, tax professionals, and other foremost experts in Opportunity Zones and the broader private equity landscape.
Jimmy: All right. Well, I’m really excited to dive into our first panel this morning at OZ Pitch Day Spring 2023. We have an incredible group of industry-leading panelists with us this morning. And the panel is titled “Catalyzing Social Impact With Opportunity Zones.” Joining me on the panel this morning are Chris Cooley, CEO of OZworks Group, Catherine Lyons, director of public policy and coalitions at the Economic Innovation Group, and Rachel Reilly, founder of Aces & Archers. Good morning to you all.
I wanted to start with Catherine, actually. EIG released a new analysis just yesterday, very timely for us. And the new analysis examines two of the most substantial multi-year studies on Opportunity Zones to date, that find that Opportunity Zones are significant and far-reaching. Catherine, can you discuss some of the findings of the EIG report? And also, maybe you can zoom out a little bit and tell our group who EIG is and how they fit into the OZ universe, please.
Catherine: Sure. Thanks for having me. So, to start with that kind of last question first. So, the Economic Innovation Group is a bipartisan research and public policy organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to create a more dynamic and inclusive economy. And one of the very first kind of policy ideas that we came out with as an organization, almost eight years ago, was Opportunity Zones. We recognized that there was a bit of a gap in sort of the existing community and economic development incentive, that framework, and thought that there could be a policy created to help catalyze investment and capital from off of the sidelines, and quite frankly, off of the coasts, in many cases, and into places that have been kind of left behind, especially in the wake of the great recession.
And so, that is what kind of drove our policy design and thinking about this, and working with Senators Scott and Booker and Representatives Kind and Kelly in the House, to create bipartisan legislation that would do just that. And so, that’s, you know, our genesis of how we became involved with Opportunity Zones, and our role as an organization. We say, since the policy’s passage, we’ve been really involved in tracking implementation on the regulatory process, and, you know, adding our thoughts, and thoughts of our coalition, on, you know, the regulatory framework, and ensuring that it is aligned with Congress’s intent for the policy.
So, maybe I’ll just start there quickly, because I think it might be helpful to sort of just level-set on what is Congress’s and what was Congress’s intent for the policy, since we’re talking here about impact, and then [crosstalk 00:03:00.951]
Jimmy: Yeah. Sorry to interrupt. I think that’d be a great place to start, just the intent of Congress, and what we mean when we say impact. And then I think the conversation today will kind of evolve into a discussion of, well, are OZs living up to this Congressional intent? What are some examples of social impact? Where is the intent of the program being fulfilled? But Catherine, sorry to cut you off there. Continue.
Catherine: No, no. Thank you. Yeah. So, I’ll start there, and then briefly go into kind of what we’re seeing based on this latest available data that just came out as well. So, essentially, you know, the policy and Congress’s intent for it was very much to do exactly what I just said earlier, to get capital into communities that have been left behind, underserved, across kind of a variety of ways, and are often overlooked by kind of typical investors.
And so, you know, the statute, while it doesn’t have very, kind of, prescribed use cases for the Opportunity Zones incentive, such as, you know, like, tax credit or New Markets does, in certain ways, it is very much designed to be flexible. That was part of the whole principle behind the policy, a recognition that out of 8700 communities that were ultimately designated as OZs, there’s a lot of diversity there.
You know, you get very rural places, highly urban places, and everything in between, and they’re gonna have very different needs. Some will need market-rate housing, some will need deeply affordable housing, some will need investment into commercial spaces, and others will need, you know, investment into businesses. And there will be various opportunities within each of these places as well.
And so, this was really designed to be a policy that could fit for all of those use cases. And that is ultimately what we are seeing. So, I think it’s important just to kind of level-set with that, and also to share that, you know, there are several requirements, you know, of funds and investors, to ensure that meaningful economic activity is taking place in these places, and quickly. You know, that this is not a place to just kind of park your money and get, you know, a tax incentive here. You really do need to be making a tangible investment into these communities, and a long-term one at that.
So, with that, I’ll just pivot briefly into the latest analysis that we came out with yesterday, that takes a look at a couple of recent studies from economists at Department of Treasury, and associated with UC Berkeley. So, the first, kind of the headline here is that OZ investment has reached nearly half of the total number of OZ-designated communities, just through the end of 2020. So, that’s only three years into the policy’s life, investment had already reached about 3800 communities across the country.
So, that is a scale that just sort of, for some context, New Markets Tax Credit, reached approximately 4300 census tracts in its 20-year lifespan. So, in 3 years we’ve done about what NMTC took about 18, for that policy to accomplish. Obviously, very different structure here, so it’s not entirely analogous, but I think it’s helpful contextualization.
The OZ communities that received this investment are substantially more economically distressed than the rest of the country, across every key indicator, poverty, median household income, and unemployment, for example. From the total equity investment that nationwide reached at least $48 billion by the end of 2020, and that’s again, not counting corresponding debt and non-equity, non-OZ equity, rather. And this capital was raised from roughly 21,000 individuals and 7800 Qualified Opportunity funds. So, pretty remarkable scale.
One last thing, since again, we’re talking about impacts here, that I’ll mention, is that another study found that OZ designation caused a large and immediate increase on new and residential development activity, such that the likelihood of investment in any given month jumped by over 20% in designated tracts. But what that study also found is that positive economic spillovers in neighboring communities happened, and that this increased the supply of housing, and improved home values, but there’s no observed increase in rents.
So, increase in development and activity, you know, positive economic spillover effects in other communities, no observable increase in rents, with all of that activity happening at the same time. So, with that, I will pause there, and turn it over to Rachel and Chris, who I know have some more specific examples of how funds and investors are actually capturing some of this impact too.
Jimmy: Yeah, please do. Catherine, thank you for setting the table there. That was incredible. Let’s get a link to that new analysis from EIG in the chat. Catherine, if you can post that.
Jimmy: Otherwise, I can find it in a minute and post it. But feel free to post that in the chat right now, if anybody wants to dive into that. Rachel, let’s turn to you. Catherine said that you and Chris were gonna cover examples of how some funds are making an impact. Do you have any examples for us, Rachel?
Rachel: I have a ton of examples. But there was a comment that was dropped in the chat that may kind of waylay how this conversation goes on my end. So, Jimmy, I hope you’re ready for that. But no, the comment was, “Social impact?” Social impact being in quotation marks. And I think if I were to read into that, based on the conversations I’ve had about Opportunity Zones over the past years, I think what the attendee is asking is, how do you define social impact? What are you calling social impact? If I’m getting that wrong, please correct me.
But I think it is a very fair question. Because, you know, when we’re talking about impact, we can have economic impact, we can have social impact. Quite frankly, one of the things we always say is, no matter what you do, you’re having an impact, it’s just, you know, what is your intentionality behind the type of impact that you wanna have? Is it neutral? Is it negative? Is it positive on either a direct or indirect level?
But all that to say, the way that I think about social impact is that you can directly tie your investment activity to positively improving someone’s life. And I think that that can happen in a number of ways, right? You’re investing in an asset that’s providing affordable or workforce housing, so that folks have a place to live affordably. You are investing in an operational site or healthcare facility that is providing direct services to patients.
Maybe it’s through your tenants, right? So, I know that a great project called the MLK Gateway in Washington, D.C., they’re not only doing local hiring, and they’re keeping track of the number of contractors that they’re using vis-à-vis their percentage of overall hiring. But one of their tenants is a Keller Williams real estate office, and they’re offering free real estate training to the local community, you know, job creation and retention. There are a number of ways to think about it other than just projections on tax revenue generated through your investment activities.
So, with that said, that is how I define social impact, and all the examples that I just mentioned about potential benefits, we do know of projects that are hitting all of those marks. So, I can go into those projects a little bit later, but I do wanna provide Chris an opportunity to weigh in.
Jimmy: Yeah. Well, I think that’s a great thing to point out, your definition of social impact, Rachel. And really, I think it’s a values-based definition that may vary from investor to investor, from stakeholder to stakeholder. But I think your definition should resonate with almost everybody in the audience today. Well, Chris, let’s turn to you. What do you got for us? Any examples of how funds are making an impact? Or take the conversation in any direction you want, Chris. I trust you.
Chris: Well, first of all, thanks, Jimmy, for having me. And I feel so honored and privileged to be on a panel with these two incredible women. I mean, it’s, like, you know, when you and Ashley came and said, “Hey, can you help us build this, you know, co-working community for Opportunity Zones?” It was like, “Who am I?” But over the course of the last two and a half years, I mean, on a day-to-day basis, I’m sort of, like, hearing from people that are at boots-on-the-ground, doing this work.
And so, I mean, my examples are more individual. I will say that, you know, we launched a OZ accelerator 12 weeks ago, almost, and we’re nearing the end of that. And a lot of that was built on, you know, this desire to define and have an impact in Opportunity Zones and in the conversation. And, you know, I know that we had a little preliminary call, Catherine and Rachel and I, and I mentioned, you know, coming back to the root of the Opportunity Zone incentive, which Catherine, I really appreciate you setting that bar, because in a lot of workshops, and in a lot of conversations, I’m realizing and noticing that people come in not really thinking about why this was started in the first place. And when we introduce that and come back to basics, it really opens up a dialogue and these aha moments for investors and other stakeholders, of, like, “Geez, what does social impact mean to me?” Right? Like, “What impact am I having through my project?” And it really becomes this conversation starter, and it gets deeper into sort of the human spirit, in my experience.
So, one example, and I know we did this advocacy event, all of us, a few… I [inaudible 00:12:43.901], months ago, right, with this extension bill potentially on the table. And we had a couple of examples during that. One of them was this woman, her name’s Sue Springsteen, and she, you know, was, you know, from a financial background, and moved to a place in an Opportunity Zone called Coatesville, Pennsylvania. And this is a person who literally, with all adversity, right, everyone in her life saying, “Don’t move there. Why would you move there? It’s predominantly the opposite of demographic of who you are. It’s a declining economy, like, just a place that no one would want to be.”
And she went totally against that, and decided to make a commitment and move to Coatesville and launch a company. She’s raised money for a business in an Opportunity Zone. She’s, you know, done the real estate development, commercial property with office spaces, a tech center, helping the community. But the way that that happened is that she made a commitment, and she literally moved her life into that space, to be around and really have conversation and form a life with people who come from a completely different background, a totally different perspective than she does.
And I just personally say that, you know, that’s one of the things that I’ve found in Opportunity Zones that’s really inspired me is it has helped me get a lot out of my comfort zone, and start to listen more. And it’s amazing what you can do if you really come at this from an impactful standpoint, thinking like, “Wow, what can I do to have a beneficial impact here?” Right? Like Rachel said, you know, you get to have a choice, right? “Am I going to have no impact? Am I gonna have a negative impact? Am I gonna have a positive impact?” And the positive direction is fulfilling, it’s gratifying, it helps this narrative, and I think it brings more people together. So, if I can just have, like, a rah-rah moment, that’s me trying to do that.
Jimmy: Well, we’re having some rah-rah moments in the chat right now, regarding Sue at least. A lot of positive support for Sue.
Chris: Yeah, Sue’s a rockstar. I have…
Jimmy: Brad says, “Sue is aces. Coatesville rocks.” And our friend Emily says, “Sue is incredible.” So, Sue’s reputation precedes her here, I guess.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, she’s really doing it. And I think, you know, also what comes to mind is this cliche, Rachel, as you were talking, like, you know, with great power comes great responsibility, something like that, right? And I think that thinking about what you can do, I’ve talked with investors who were gonna do projects, and all of a sudden we talk about the root of the incentive and what it means. And it’s like, “Oh, wait. I was just looking at this from a tax break. Like, how…I can make a school and teach, you know, kids how to surf, you know, and bring them together.” Like, that’s a real example of an investor that I met in Puerto Rico.
So, you know, it’s just, it’s that human connection. And, you know, yeah, this is all about moving capital, and at the same time, like, hearing what a community needs is really, really a powerful thing that you can do. And that’s where, in my experience, the positive impact and change comes.
Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I wanna address a couple things in the chat real quick. And then we’ve got some questions as well, I think we’re gonna try to get to in a few minutes. But in the chat right now, Rachel did post a link to Hope Manor Village, and I also posted a link to the webinar that the four of us on this panel right now did a year ago. We’re back, for another one here today.
Chris: Crazy, a year…
Jimmy: You guys can check that out at your leisure. We also have some links to some different reports, impact investing reports, and the study that EIG just released yesterday, very coincidentally. Great timing with this event. So thank you, Catherine, and your team. I don’t know if we planned on that, but rather serendipitous.
The fact of the matter is, I think a lot of the investors who are here with us today are interested in Opportunity Zone investing to help grow their wealth, to take advantage of the amazing tax benefits. Those tax benefits exist, though, to make some impact in these communities. Congress didn’t pass this bill merely for the rich to get more rich, and for the rich to acquire these tax breaks. Yes, the tax breaks are incredible, and yes, you can grow your wealth with Opportunity Zones. But I also like to say this tax incentive helps grow wealth within Opportunity Zone communities.
Chris, you pointed out to me in your email yesterday, and when we were preparing this, that there’s two different types of investors, it seems, and it seems like mission-oriented investors have a sense for what it takes to support impact in low-income communities. But this Opportunity Zone incentive is bringing in this atypical investor, someone who’s more after returns, bottom-line returns, tax breaks, and it’s bringing them into these communities, and they may not be primed for some of the challenges and the needs of those communities. Chris, question for you, but I’ll open it up to Catherine and Rachel as well. Anybody can feel free to chime in. What do you view as that solution to this potential mismatch?
Chris: You know, I think it’s really simple, Jimmy. I think it’s getting out and talking to people in the community. As different as they are, they’re people too. And the more you get to know people personally and individually, the more trust that gets built, the more they’re going to receive and accept your investment, and support it, and back it with, like, you know, lawmakers, with their friends and family. It really is a special thing to connect with people one-on-one and community leaders. And that’s my take on it.
You know, I used Sue as an example. I can talk to hundreds of people that I’ve met in our community that do the same thing. And it feels like this stretch, like, “I don’t look like this person.” Or, “I have a different socio-economic background, or different family unit,” whatever that is. It’s like, it doesn’t matter if you really, truly wanna make that impact happen. Like, go out of your comfort zone and make an introduction and meet people, and talk to them. Right?
I also can’t take credit for what you just said, in my email, because that was Rachel. And so I’m gonna kick it to Rachel, because her experience is so deep with this in that mission-driven investor element, you know, traditionally, versus seeing, you know, that sort of atypical version of an investor coming into these areas. So, I’m gonna pass the hot potato to her.
Rachel: Hot potato indeed, Chris. But no. So, I’ll touch on that a little bit, and maybe the genesis of my comments yesterday with Chris and Catherine. But, for me, I think it’s always important to go back to making the business case of why you should care, because I don’t necessarily think pleading an emotional case, at the end of the day, maybe it will tug on the hearts and minds of folks, but it has to make financial sense too.
And so, when I think about Opportunity Zone investors who maybe are not necessarily plugged in on the social impact side, or aren’t defining themselves as mission-related investors or mission-oriented investors, what I say to them is that by working with local partners, by working with a fund manager with local expertise, you’re gonna get unique market insights into demand. And that is gonna help inform the type of investments you make, hopefully, and, as well as, you know, how well those investments do over time.
If you’re investing into something in a community that there’s no demand for, but there’s no way of knowing that because maybe you were just going through, like, a national list of, you know, “We need more Chick-fil-A,” “We need more Chipotle,” whatever, but what you don’t see is that that community really needs a daycare center. And that community daycare center, the operator can actually get a contract from the federal government to run that operations for 15, 20 years. All of a sudden, that is 15 or 20 years of guaranteed income for your investment.
And so, that is why I always say work with the local community, understand what their needs and priorities are. Number one, that daycare is gonna be oversubscribed if they need daycare in the first place. And number two, you have a government contract backing it, and you’re serving a socially good mission. And so, it’s not necessarily like, give up your return, you know, immerse yourself in the community. Those are all good things, but it doesn’t have to be that.
Chris: If I could also add, I totally agree. I mentioned sort of going out of your comfort zone to meet people who maybe don’t, you know, look like you or come from a different background as you. It goes the other direction too, and that’s one of the reasons… I see Juan. Shout-out to Juan, from our accelerator.
One of the reasons that we put together the accelerator, and we carved out sponsorships and scholarships for that, is to be able to introduce language and education around this type of investment to people who represent OZ communities. So, of the 23 deals that are in our pipeline and in our program, more than half are people who represent OZ communities, who normally wouldn’t have had access, and we’ve got the investors in there giving feedback.
And shout-out to all the amazing teachers, Jimmy, you were one of them, for volunteering your time to be with these folks and introduce them to concepts that normally maybe wouldn’t have been part of their vocabulary, right? And so, it’s just, it’s been amazing. And, Rachel, yeah, I mean, the daycare is exactly it, right? If you just look on a list and you look at, you know, just pick from a hat, it doesn’t have the same type of impact that we’re talking about here.
Jimmy: Great. Well, I wanna get to the… we got about 8, 9, 10 minutes left before we gotta wrap it up. We’ve got a bunch of questions. I wanna get to most of them in a minute. We got one quick one I think you can answer Chris. What is Sue’s full name? Yvette wants to know.
Chris: Sue Springsteen.
Jimmy: And then maybe we can, can we post her link to her project or her profile [crosstalk 00:23:11] here?
Chris: Yeah. I think I can dig up a link to…we clipped out, like, just her segment of our last session about advocacy.
Chris: I’ll see if I can dig it up on her YouTube channel.
Jimmy: Let’s get that in there. Hey, Catherine, I wanted to turn back to you. You’re posting some interesting stuff in the chat here, some analysis about your analysis. You mentioned in the chat that OZ investment reached all 50 states, and in Oregon and Colorado, more than three-fourths of their OZs reached investment. That’s incredible. Catherine, are there any other high-level facts or tidbits you can share with us from the study, that are important to you? And a broader question is, are OZs working?
Catherine: Yeah, I mean, so, I think I definitely encourage everyone to take a look at the analysis. There are some, I think, helpful charts that we’ve included there that visualize a lot of this data. I know it’s a lengthy brief. But the map, I think, is, you know, in particular, I think everyone likes to see sort of where their state that they’re working in or that they’re residing in has kind of ranked in terms of the percentage of OZs that have actually seen investment. So, we do have a map there that has the percentages for every state. And this is again, only through the end of 2020.
And we know, just based on other private-sector data sources, like Novogradac, that, you know, 2021 was a really big year for investing because of the expiration of the step-up in basis benefit, and same with 2022, another really big year for investing. So, it’s probably safe to say that we have, you know, gone maybe even into the kind of two-thirds range in terms of the percentage on the national scale, at least, the percentage of OZs that have received investment. But I mentioned Oregon and Colorado because those are the two states that are really leading the pack. D.C. is actually number one, with 80% a state. So, I picked out the states first, to highlight.
But yeah. So, I think that there’s some really interesting lessons that we can potentially learn here and glean for, you know, further down the road. In terms of additional, you know, findings that I think are really important, I mean, I think the other thing to really know, and maybe I’ll just kind of go back to the point I made earlier about the types of communities that are receiving investment are also ones that are just, are highly distressed places. And so, in that way, you know, again, this is early evidence, right. This is only through the first three years in the program, or the policy, and so we don’t yet know the long-term effects of this. But the early signs are showing that, actually, you know, it is on its way to fulfilling Congress’s intent of, you know, getting capital into communities that are highly distressed places. That at least is bearing out in this kind of early evidence and early data.
You know, one thing I’ll make a plug for the Opportunity Zones Transparency, Extension, and Improvement Act that we did, that was the focus of our advocacy webinar last year. And that is the bill not only to extend the policy but also to establish reporting and transparency requirements, part of which would be longitudinal in nature. So, not only an annual report, that would collect information from funds and investors, but also one that would, at the 5th and 10th year, take a look at how are these communities faring. Let’s look at all the socio-economic metrics that can help us understand better, you know, communities that were designated and their residents, how are they doing versus, you know, communities that may have been eligible, but were non-designated? So, in a similar situation economically, but didn’t get that OZ designation.
So, I think that will be, you know, that’s a really important part of the legislation, and something that will be, you know, really critical for us to better understand. Is this early evidence going to bear out, you know, through the entire longevity of the policy? And that’ll be really important to the staying power of OZs generally.
Jimmy: Perfect. Well, we’ve got five minutes left. Let’s get to the questions because we’ve got a bunch of questions. And apologies in advance if we don’t get to everyone’s question. I’ll try to pass along questions to the appropriate person on this panel to try to answer if we don’t get to yours. But Ty asks, “How can you quantify social impact, and incorporate that value into the capital stack? Is that something that can be valued or quantified?” Does that question even make sense? Who wants to get that one? Raise your hand, or just jump in.
Rachel: Yeah. I can take part of that, and then opine on another part of it. But the first part, concretely, we do know that there are methods for evaluating and quantifying the impact that projects have. Earlier in the panel, I dropped a link to Arctaris Impact Investors’ 2022 report. They do a really good job of analyzing the impact of their deals. They hired a firm called ICIC to do that. You don’t have to hire a firm. I think, really, it’s as easy as gathering, you know, some metrics, as well as some qualitative…so, quantitative and qualitative information. And qualitative information just being, as Chris mentioned, go talk to people. You know, better understand how they’re benefiting from the project that you have.
The other link that I just dropped in there is a link to EIG’s resources. I’ve been working with EIG for years now, to kind of elevate these high-impact models, through both webinars, but also deal profiles. And so if you wanted to take a look how some of this is being quantified, that’s a good resource. And the last plug that I’ll say is that working locally sometimes means working with local consortiums, and I do wanna plug the Chicago Opportunity Zone Consortium, who helped with the Hope Manor Village profile that I dropped earlier. Having an intermediary like that on the ground can be really helpful with investors. So, if folks are interested in working with an intermediary, free of charge, happy to put you in touch with Chicagoland Opportunity Zone Consortium.
Jimmy: Great. Well, thank you for those examples, Rachel. Rhonda asks, “How have Opportunity Zones impacted the equitable value of the local disenfranchised developers? And is there any positive impactful traction seen with those individual development firms as well?” Who wants to take that one? Any thoughts there?
Rachel: Yeah. I think maybe what you’re referring to is minority-owned development firms. So, who are the project sponsors? Who’s actually generating wealth by developing and owning these properties? And I will say that there are a number of minority-owned development firms, Mosaic in Philadelphia, which actually ran a equity crowdfunding campaign for local residents alongside their OZ projects, as well as Menkiti in Washington, D.C., who developed that MLK Gateway project that I mentioned earlier. And so, I’m not necessarily sure if OZs has spurred additional activity for those developers, but I do know that it’s put a spotlight on the communities in which they’re operating, which means more development opportunities for them, now and in the future.
Jimmy: Great. This next question, Chris, you might be primed to answer it. Robin asks, “Can you speak to how Opportunity Zone funds can be used to purchase businesses located in the Opportunity Zone?” And do you work with anyone involved in those types of transactions, Chris?
Chris: Well, I guess not specifically. I mean, I would say that part of our accelerator is teed up to help businesses develop, to receive OZ capital from qualified Opportunity Zone funds. So, you know, part of that is educating the businesses on what that actually means, right? And then they can go educate… What we’re finding is they’re actually going out and educating their investors. And oftentimes, what I’m realizing is that the investor, in this sense, right, actually needs the business a little more than the other way around, because you’ve got a timeline to deploy some of this capital and find a real good deal.
And so, you know, obviously, a lot of the investment’s been made in real estate. But I don’t know if I can specifically answer that question. But I do wanna make note, based on the last two. People may wanna check out the RICE Center in Atlanta. It’s, like, an incubator for black-owned businesses, and it’s run by a group of philanthropists and investors. And it’s in an Opportunity Zone. I don’t know how much they’re diving into it, but that’s a great example.
And the other thing is quantifying social impact. I just wanna give a shout-out. I know that there is a social impact report that’s coming out, I believe JTC, they will be announcing that shortly. But it’ll be really cool to see that data quantified. And also what I would say is, like Rachel mentioned, document everything. I don’t know if Jimmy has actually been on yet today. I think he’s on a little bit later to answer questions.
Jimmy: He’s on a little bit later this afternoon. Yeah.
Chris: Yeah. Like, his whole thing is, like, can you genuinely back up that everything that you’ve done has made an impact, right? And if you’re telling your story, to Rachel’s point, it doesn’t all have to be quantitative. It can be qualitative as well. But can all roads point back to, “I really, genuinely made this business decision based on a positive impact?” Right? So, I kind of went off track there. My apologies. But I wanted to touch on a couple of those.
Jimmy: No, that’s perfect. And you wrapped up our…
Catherine: If I could… Oh, sorry.
Jimmy: Go ahead. Yeah, go ahead, Catherine. We’ve got about 60 seconds.
Catherine: Okay. I’ll follow up Chris’s tangent for just a second, and say that…
Chris: Thank you.
Catherine: …you know, in addition to, you know, sharing, or kind of trying to do your best of tracking your impacts from a either quantitative or qualitative sense, also share that, you know, with your state and local and federal policymakers as well. That is really important. I mean, kind of absent the legislation, and obviously, we’re working really hard to get that passed and sort of codify the reporting and the transparency requirements, but, you know, absent that for now, it’s still, it’s really important for you all to do what you can to try to measure the impact, and understand what the impact is that you’re having on these communities, and then tell that story as well. So, that’s the next step. And that’s something that the advocacy toolkit that we talked about last year can come into play. And that’s where we can help you resource as well, if you are interested in doing that. But that will be very, very important, just, again, for the kind of overall longevity of the policy, and, you know, reinforcing that positive narrative as well.
Jimmy: Perfect. Well, we’ve run out of time. We could probably talk about this stuff all day…
Chris: Yes, we could.
Jimmy: …but really wanna thank Rachel and Catherine. And I wanna echo one thing that Chris mentioned about 15 minutes ago. It’s an honor to serve on the panel, maybe not so much with you, Chris, but with the two ladies for sure. I’ve been…
Chris: I knew that was coming, Jimmy. It’s okay.
Jimmy: Well, I started learning about Opportunity Zones in mid-2018, and I devoured a ton of content that Rachel was putting out at that time. And she was very active on Twitter. And Catherine, you as well, and your group at EIG. Just incredible resources for me in those early days in 2018. And it’s great to be serving on this panel with both of you. And Chris, it’s great to serve on this panel with you as well. So, thank you to all of you for participating. I did post links to OZworks Group, to EIG, and to Aces & Archers in the chat, so please do check out the organizations from our panelists today. Thank you all so much for participating. Really appreciate your time.
Chris: You’re welcome.
Chris: Thanks, Jimmy.
Catherine: Thank you so much.
Chris: Thank you both.
Rachel: Thank you, Chris.
Catherine: Thank you.