The Rockefeller Foundation announced an initiative to help U.S. cities attract responsible private investment in economically-distressed communities through Opportunity Zones created in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This effort will help ensure new investment delivers sustainable benefits for more than 30 million low-income Americans living in Opportunity Zones. Newark is the first city selected, and will receive $920,000 in co-funding from Prudential Financial and The Rockefeller Foundation, working through the Newark Alliance, which has a commitment to equitable development. The other five cities will be announced over the next few months.
Through the initiative, six cities will receive financial and human resources support for two years. Support includes funding for and designation of a Chief Opportunity Zone Officer, embedded in city government or city economic development agencies. It also includes funding for two community engagement specialists to support and facilitate community engagement and involvement in the proposed Opportunity Zone projects and businesses.
“The only way to make sure the ‘opportunity’ in Opportunity Zones benefits all Newark residents is to intentionally focus resources to ensure it happens,” said Mayor Ras Baraka. “I am so pleased that through the support of our longtime partner in progress, Prudential, Newark was able to be the first city in The Rockefeller Foundation initiative.”
“Prudential is committed to maximizing the potential impact of the Opportunity Zone program to spur catalytic investments in our hometown of Newark. By providing capital, as well as our expertise from our other Newark redevelopment and Opportunity Zone projects, we will help close the gap between inequality and opportunity as the city grows,” said Lata Reddy, senior vice president of Diversity, Inclusion & Impact, Prudential. “Our partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation is a crucial step toward ensuring that inclusive, responsible investment benefits all Newark residents and communities.”
“Opportunity Zones have the potential to unlock billions of dollars in innovative job creation and community infrastructure private investment in cities, lifting up Americans who most need this support and preventing their displacement by irresponsible development,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Philanthropy has an important role to play in ensuring opportunity zones improve the lives of the residents in distressed communities. Starting with Newark, The Rockefeller Foundation will help empower communities to attract and implement investments that will provide real economic mobility to the greatest numbers of disadvantaged people.”
This initiative aims to make it easier for cities to attract and responsibly deploy some of the more than $6 trillion of unrealized capital gains which could qualify for investment in Opportunity Zones. In addition to funding the Chief Opportunity Zone Officer position and two community engagement specialists, each city will also receive two years of support in the form of a national Opportunity Zone Technical Assistance team to compile and leverage local, state, and federal incentives, and help structure and support deals.
The initiative is part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s U.S. Jobs and Economic Opportunity program focused on expanding economic opportunity for low-income Americans through policy, partnership and place-based transformation.
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