Building a pipeline of community-driven projects.

The Opportunity Zones incentive is a new community investment tool established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide. Opportunity Zones provide a tax incentive for investors to reinvest their unrealized capital gains into dedicated Opportunity Funds. For more information about how Opportunity Zones work, see the links at the bottom of the page.

Under the federal Opportunity Zone law, states have no formal role after designating census tracts as Opportunity Zones in April, 2018. So we traveled throughout Washington State with the Federal Reserve Board of San Francisco and the National Development Council (NDC) to listen to what communities had to say.

We learned that many already have a list of catalytic community-driven projects, but that they need:

  • Technical assistance to get these projects from idea to investment-ready
  • Help getting projects in front of the right investors
  • Assistance in building capacity and expertise in their communities

In response, Washington State is working with NDC, federal, state and philanthropic partners to pilot the development of an ecosystem that creates a pipeline of catalytic, community-driven projects and builds community wealth. Although we are working with our partners in urban areas, we are primarily focusing on Tribal and rural communities, with a special emphasis on collaborations.

Chart of the opportunity zone process.

About Washington

And it’s no coincidence that this infographic looks like an infinity symbol – that’s because our goal is to create a Sustainable Ecosystem & Deal Pipeline that helps communities — for years to come — build catalytic community-driven projects.

Key elements of our Sustainable Ecosystem & Deal Pipeline include:

  • Create a Learning Community: This will be open to all Opportunity Zones in our state, based on Philanthropy Northwest’s Giving Practice work.
  • Provide Technical Assistance: National Development Council has a two-year contract with Commerce to provide assistance to communities, but we are also leaning heavily on key federal, state and philanthropic partners.
  • Facilitate relationships between communities & funders.
  • Find funding for building community capacity and getting projects investment-ready.
  • Measure impact: We’re working with Sorenson Impact Center, Mission Investors Exchange and others.
  • And…we will continue to listen & learn from communities!

A little more on the technical assistance we are offering:

A chart showing the state's Opportunity Zones workflow.

Want to know more about Opportunity Zones?

For Washington State updates, contact Sarah Lee at the Washington State Department of Commerce

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