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Opportunity Zones have the potential to direct vast amounts of capital to communities, but there are risks and challenges in ensuring that they do so in a way that benefits residents. LISC is in the Opportunity Zone space because we want to help shape the conversation and direct OZ resources so that communities truly benefit.
Opportunity Zones were recently designated throughout the country in response to bi-partisan legislation included in the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The goal of the Opportunity Zone initiative is to encourage long-term private capital investment in low-income urban and rural communities. The Opportunity Zones program offers long-term tax deferral on capital gains for investments in designated census tracts. Opportunity Zone Funds must be placed as equity, taking a shared ownership position in real estate improvements or business enterprise expansions in the designated census tracts. Indiana’s 156 Opportunity Zones are located in 58 counties covering all or portions of 83 cities and towns throughout the state. Opportunity Zones will cover over 1,000 square miles and the residences of more than half a million Hoosiers.
In November 2018, Opportunity Investment Consortium of Indiana launched in efforts to intentionally champion the transformation of Opportunity Zone neighborhoods into vibrant places for residents and businesses. The Consortium hosts an online portal to aid in matching projects in need of funding in these specified census tracts to potential investors.
An advisory leadership, together with backbone agencies, training, and consultancy partners,collectively provide coordinated assistance to deals as they clear milestones and prepare for Opportunity Zone investment infusions. Commitments to help staff the backbone of the pilot include: State of Indiana, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Cinnaire, Indy Chamber, Indiana Bond Bank, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority. LISC houses the online portal with support from the Fifth Third Foundation.