The Opportunity Zones legislation was designed to mobilize new levels of capital into low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities – areas that have historically been overlooked and underserved by mainstream capital markets. As longstanding financial partners to LMI communities, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), it would seem, are positioned to play a pivotal role in the Opportunity Zones ecosystem. Yet the legislation presents a challenge on that front. As the law dictates, the mechanism through which Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund investments must be made are equity instruments, while CDFIs tend to operate more on the lending side. For this reason, the CDFI industry has struggled to determine exactly how it can harness the potential power of the Opportunity Zones tax incentive to advance their efforts to support LMI communities. This report, then, is timely. As our partners at the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Impact Finance show in the pages that follow, there is indeed a role for CDFIs in the emerging Opportunity Zones space – or, more accurately, several potential roles, both financial and non-financial alike. Enterprise is proud to support this report and is grateful for its contribution to the field. It is now up to us, as CDFIs and mission-aligned partners, to convert the ideas held within this report into action. In so doing, we can help realize the original intent of the Opportunity Zones legislation: to responsibly direct significant capital into communities that have been financially marginalized for too long.
Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire
Tansey, Charles and Swack, Michael, "The Potential Role For CDFIs in the Opportunity Zones of the Investing in Opportunities Act (IIOA)" (2019). The Carsey School of Public Policy at the Scholars' Repository. 362.
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