GIFC: Implementing Opportunity Zones & Financial Stability

2019 Annual Summer Meeting in Columbia, SC!

We are less than a month away from our 2019 Annual Summer Meeting in Columbia, SC, hosted by Mayor Steve Benjamin. Read on to learn more about two of our Summer Meeting topics, view the full agenda, and then register to join us!

Implementing Opportunity Zones

Since the roll-out of Opportunity Zones in 2017—the new tax incentive tool from the federal government to encourage community development—local leaders have sought to find the best way to utilize potential investments. For small cities, getting the attention of investors can be an additional challenge. Consider bringing in lenders with local knowledge who can connect with local investors.

Future reporting requirements for Opportunity Zones remain unclear; this lack of transparency is frustrating for investors and municipalities. Cities can prepare for these changes by following the updates from Congress, but they can also develop their own reporting requirements for projects receiving these investments to ensure that they have a positive social impact.

Finally, investors might see rural communities as risky investments, but partnerships with states might help these areas become more appealing. In addition to reaching out to traditional investors, anchor institution partners such as hospitals might be a solution.

Cities as a source of household financial stability

Household financial instability poses risks to cities’ budgets, which is why some cities have developed partnerships to find solutions. We look forward to hearing more about these partnerships from the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program’s Joanna Smith-Ramani at the Summer Meeting.

Cities can make an impact on this issue. For example, Stockton, CA is taking on a universal basic income (UBI) experiment. UBI does not seem to encourage workers to leave the workforce; instead, even a relatively small UBI may offer some relief to families with debt, fluctuating work hours, and more.

Additionally, cities can use ordinances to protect workers. For example, San Jose, CA chose to pass an ordinance that requires employers to provide part-time workers with more hours before hiring additional staff, putting workers on the track towards stable, full-time employment.