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Opportunity Zones

On June 10, 2019, the Foothills Regional Commission and Isothermal Community College hosted a gathering of the region’s community and economic development leaders focused on Federal Opportunity Zones. Jeanne Milliken Bonds of Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond presented the information linked below:

Qualified Opportunity Zones: Innovation and Responsiveness

Opportunity Zone Investing: 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act

Statement on Opportunity Zones from Chairman Jay Clayton, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

On September 10, 2019, Jeanne Milliken Bonds shared an in depth presentation during the region’s Economic Development Day, focused on Opportunity Zones, Qualified Opportunity Funds, and examples of regional projects. Click here to view the slides: Unlocking Opportunity?

December 30, 2019.

Treasury and IRS Issue Final Regulations on Opportunity Zones

On Thursday December 20, the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS issued final regulations regarding the implementation of the Opportunity Zones tax incentive. The final rules provide clarity for Opportunity Funds and their eligible subsidiaries in determining qualification and levels of investment in Opportunity Zones. They also provide guidance on the types of capital gains that qualify for Opportunity Zone investments. Please click here to view the regulations, and click here to view FAQs.

January 3, 2020:

Broadband and Opportunity Zones

Attention Bankers, ISPs, Rural Electric Cooperatives, Rural Phone Cooperatives, Local Government, Opportunity Funds, Investors in the Isothermal Regions Opportunity Zones (click here for more information). The by Kenan-Flagler Business School, UNC, Invest to Sustain Initiative is hosting an event on January 8th in Raleigh to talk about Broadband Investment Opportunities in Opportunity Zones.

Investment in broadband in under served communities throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia is essential to sustainable and competitive communities. Access to broadband increases residential property values, commercial business activity and spurs viable employment opportunities in isolated communities. Broadband can deliver healthcare, education, workforce training, recreation, business expansion, entrepreneurial and personal growth opportunities. Too many smaller, rural, and lower-wealth communities lack access to broadband as a critical asset.

Opportunity Zones, the Community Reinvestment Act, and federal and state programs are creating exciting opportunities to match investment dollars to be part of the solution for under served communities.

Attend this event to learn more about how Opportunity Zones and Broadband can come together to: 

-The Digital Divide and why it matters, as well as the challenges communities face

-Creative community initiatives that have successfully addressed broadband infrastructure, including critical success factors and lessons learned

-Externals factors that shape broadband deployment efforts, including market, legal, and regulatory issues at the federal, state and local levels

-Opportunities for the Capital Stack that include the Community Reinvestment Act and Opportunity Funds

-Successful community financing structures that support broadband

For more information about tickets to this event, click here.  For more information about the agenda and speakers for the day, click here.

Economic Prospectus Overview

Accelerator for America developed a guide for a locality to develop a prospectus. A prospectus helps to communicate the assets and opportunities in an Opportunity Zone. Click here to access the guide.

IPDC staff developed a framework for use by its membership. Click here to view the IPDC framework.

Click here to view a draft prospectus outline for our membership to use as a starting point in developing a community prospectus.

Web Resources’

The White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council Opportunity Zones web page can be found here.

Opportunity Zones in ARC Region: A new press release from the Appalachian Regional Commission highlights Opportunity Zones.

Appalachia is Opportunity Zone Leader Three Appalachian-based community organizations were recently recognized as among the nation’s top ten 20 Opportunity Zone Catalysts as per Forbes Magazine. These  included a partnership between the Opportunity Zone Development Company and the Erie Downtown Development Corporation which has announced two Opportunity Zone Funds poised to invest up to $60 million in Erie, Pennsylvania; Opportunity Alabama which is developing programs to educate communities on policy and social impacts of projects across Alabama’s 158 Opportunity Zones; and Opportunity Appalachia, a newly formed consortium of community development partners with plans to invest in Opportunity Zones in Appalachia’s rural coal impacted communities. With help through ARC’s POWER Initiative, Appalachian Community Capital, the lead organization of Opportunity Appalachia, officially launched the Opportunity Appalachia program to provide technical assistance to communities in Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia to develop community strategies and structure invest able transactions targeting Opportunity Fund (QOF) Investors. This program could potentially create an estimated 700 jobs in a variety of industries. More information about the program and pre-registration for upcoming seminars can be found on the Appalachian Community Capital website.

The Opportunity Zone Initiative, approved by Congress and led by the President and his administration, offers tax incentives designed to promote additional private investment in America’s cities and towns. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed census tract where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. As of July, 2018, 737 census tracts have been designated as Qualified Opportunity Zones across Appalachia. These eligible tracts are home to over 2.8 million Appalachian residents.

As per the recently released Request for Proposals (RFP), applications for POWER 2020 will receive special consideration in the review process if they propose to leverage their POWER award in qualified Opportunity Zones.


A listing of Opportunity Zone funds can be found here.

The IRS created a Page for the Opportunity Zones. Click here to find out more about the regulations and other guidance issues from the IRS.

Click here to fund funds created under the Opportunity Act is with the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization created by the nation’s state Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs). 

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Releases Opportunity Zones Community Playbook

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has partnered with the Council for Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) and the Ford Foundation to develop a playbook for community partners on Opportunity Zones. This playbook is the first in a series in which LISC aims to lay out potential trajectories and best practices for the range of Opportunity Zones actors. The new playbook is available here

Workforce in the Opportunity Zones

Pay for Success: How Emerging Finance Tools Are Supporting Workforce Development

Community Development in the Opportunity Zones

The Bottom Line: Now’s the Opportunity for Cities to Work on Their Zone Defense

EDA has a new Tool in accessing information for Opportunity Zones

EDA releases new Opportunity Zone tool to aid economic developers and Regional Planning Organizations

If you are engaged in economic development, local government or planning, you probably have heard about Opportunity Zones.  The Opportunity Zones – or OZs as many are referring to them – were created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to stimulate economic development and job creation in low-income neighborhoods and have been a major theme in economic development circles over the past two years. 

First, the basics: Opportunity Zones are low-income census tract that were nominated by Governors and certified by the IRS where private investors can invest capital gains taxes through funds that are established (called Qualified Opportunity Funds) and receive preferential tax advantages in future years. 

There has been a lot of information provided – IRS has released lengthy regulations governing how the tax code for the “program” will work, numerous legal and investor groups have issued details to advise clients on how to take advantage of the program, websites have been created, webinars and trainings offered, and meetings held.

For communities, especially rural communities, or communities that are still working through recovery from the recent disasters, the volume of materials on Opportunity Zones can make it hard to know where to begin.  Other communities have seen details from private investment groups and assume Opportunity Zones are just for the private sector.  They’re not.

Rather, Opportunity Zones were created to provide opportunity for public/private engagement to facilitate economic development and opportunity in low-income neighborhoods.  While much focus has been made on the private returns to investors, public communities can reap rewards through the program as well – by clearly defining community needs and opportunities communities have the chance to help steer private investment in a way that aligns with public priorities.  And the Federal government has established a White House Opportunity Zone Council to ensure agencies are examining way public funds can be leveraged by communities to support development in Opportunity Zones. 

For example, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity that made Opportunity Zones eligible for funding from EDA through its Special Needs category and added Opportunity Zones as one of the agency’s five Investment Priorities.   EDA is encouraging communities to see Opportunity Zones as a “new arrow in their quiver” to enhance business attraction and drive needed investment in distressed communities.  To help with this process, EDA has partnered with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business to add an Opportunity Zone tool to the agency’s StatsAmerica website (available at   The tool provides a map of Qualified Opportunity Zones, and provides an overlay of key demographic and social information that may be leveraged by economic developers, planners, and investors when considering potential investments in a community.  This tool may be helpful for communities working on developing an Opportunity Zone Prospectus, and those working to develop Opportunity Zone projects.  To access the tool, please click here.

Regional Economic Data By County

Cleveland County

McDowell County

Polk County

Rutherford County

Foothills Regional Economic Development Strategy

Click here to learn about the Foothills Regional Economic Development Strategy and the region’s Target Industry Clusters.

Membership Capacity Building & Technical Assistance

Click here for more information about how the Foothills Regional Commission assists the local governments in the Foothills Region.