Seeking to Lift Up the Voice of  Entrepreneurs

In the middle of the controversial discussion around the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, a new community development program, the Investing in Opportunity Act, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support as it is intended to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide. The act, championed by Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Ron Kind (D-WI), was originally developed by the Economic Innovation Group in 2015 to help address the persistent poverty and uneven recovery that plague most American communities.

As a part of the act, each state governor has designated up to 20% of their low and moderate income (LMI) census tracts as Opportunity Zones. The Opportunity Zones program provides a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into Opportunity Funds that are dedicated to investing into Opportunity Zones designated by the chief executives of every U.S. state and territory.

Since its inception and subsequent roll-out, business leaders and community development experts have been both positive and skeptical about its real impact across America (see attached: The Daily Beast, The New York Times, Brookings, The Denver Post, and Insider Louisville). The best case scenario: this act has the intended outcome of incentivizing private investment in LMI communities that have huge needs. The worst case scenario: this is a tax shelter for high net worth individuals that perhaps accelerates gentrification and inequality.

We want to help make the best case scenario the most likely one.

Access Ventures, along with our partners, want to play a role in implementation to help make the best case scenario the most likely one. Because of our experience in working to build more inclusive and creative economies through mission-aligned investments, we were recently invited to participate as a member of the Opportunity Zones Coalition. The Coalition is a by-invite membership to aid in the development of these guidelines through advocacy and to aid in the deployment through education.

We will be participating in the coalition in three ways

  • Sharing experiences and best practices from our cities where we have experience investing in distressed communities, such as Louisville, Columbus, Memphis, and Tulsa.
  • Working with national partners such as Village Capital, Kiva, Living Cities, LISC, and many others to potentially think through, design, and implement inclusive investment vehicles.
  • Bringing the voices of entrepreneurs in our communities to the national conversation, ensuring that other investors like us are in touch with the needs of the places we all seek to improve.

Click these links to learn more about how the program works, its history, and a succinct list of FAQs. And for more updates and information about Access Ventures consider subscribing to our newsletter.

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Bryce Butler

Managing Partner