Opportunity Zones have been having a rough time in the press. The tax policy—bipartisan, market based, and designed to inject billions of dollars into long overlooked communities—has recently been cast in the media as another tax loophole for billionaires, giving investors (many political connected) big tax breaks to build real estate projects for the rich, not the underserved people the law was designed to help.
Every new tax law creates a new loophole. There will always be bad actors and unintended consequences. As stories on tax policies go, it makes for a scandalous read. But there is another story, one less salacious but equally important, of bold investors and creative civic leaders using OZ law as it was meant to be.
Powered by the Sorenson Impact Center, we are debuting the Forbes OZ 20: The Top Opportunity Zone Catalysts. Comprised of 10 trailblazing community organizations and 10 innovative OZ funds, the Forbes OZ 20 shines a light on the players harnessing the new tax policy to unlock transformative economic potential and create lasting change in America’s overlooked communities.
To pick the top 20, the Sorenson Impact Center, based in University of Utah’s Eccles School of Business, judged finalists based on Opportunity Zone Reporting Framework, which prioritizes community benefit and engagement, transparency and impact. Applications were scored by experts at Sorenson Impact and judged by an advisory board comprised of leaders in the opportunity zones landscape. Below are 20 examples of how OZ policy can be used as a powerful tool to promote responsible capitalism. Take a look.
Top 10 Community Organizations
Baltimore Development Corporation
The Maryland-based nonprofit focuses on attracting entrepreneurs to open, expand, or relocate businesses in the Charm City. Armed with tax-credits, lease-to-own real estate programs, direct financing, and permit streamlining, the BDC connects private and public organizations to bring transformative investment to Baltimore’s OZ communities. The program recently used OZ incentives to convince Galen Robotics, which makes surgical robots, to move to Baltimore from Silicon Valley.