Bruce Katz · June 13
As the 2020 campaign takes hold, Democratic candidates have been issuing ambitious proposals about the platform role of the federal government: helping people live productive lives via a robust and secure safety net and (mostly) enhanced investments in health care and housing. We have been hearing much less about how the federal government helps places build prosperous futures by mobilizing the energies and expertise of sub-national players like states, counties, cities, universities and non-profits around issues like innovation, infrastructure and climate change.
Bruce Katz · May 30
Over the past several months, I have been working with a disparate group of colleagues on two signature studies. Julie Wagner, Tom Osha and I have been writing an update to the 2014 report, “The Rise of Innovation Districts,” in collaboration with the new Global Institute on Innovation Districts. At the same time, Karen Black, Luise Noring and I have been preparing an analysis of Cincinnati’s Center City Development Corporation (3CDC), in collaboration with Drexel’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation and Accelerator for America. Both reports are near completion and will be released in June.
Bruce Katz · May 16
In 1969, the Indiana state legislature consolidated the city and county governments of Indianapolis and surrounding Marion County. In one act, “Unigov” increased Indianapolis’ population by about 250,000 and its land area by about 275 square miles, establishing it as one of the top U.S. cities (its population of 863,000 in 2017 made it the 16th most populous city in the United States).
Bruce Katz · May 2
As I engage with dozens of communities around the country on Opportunity Zones, I am often asked “Where are the philanthropies?”
The question is rooted in some simple math and hard market realities. The Opportunity Zones tax incentive could generate tens of billions of dollars in market equity investment in low-income communities, which could, in turn, leverage hundreds of billions of dollars more in conventional lending, concessionary capital and public subsidy. Most Opportunity Zones are in desperate need of such investments given their high rates of poverty and vacancy and the absence of businesses and business demand. Yet there is a disconnect today between the orientation of capital allocators (who have access to countless tax advisors, accountants and lawyers) and community advocates (who are more familiar with policy or subsidy driven tools).
Bruce Katz · April 17
Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a Request for Information, seeking public guidance on how HUD can leverage the economic and social impact of Opportunity Zones. As part of the Request, HUD crunched the numbers and revealed the remarkable way in which Opportunity Zones overlap with public and assisted housing, home to millions of low-income Americans.
Bruce Katz · April 3
Over the past ten days, I have been in Israel and the United Kingdom exploring how to adapt US market dynamics and tools — innovation districts, opportunity zones, city investment prospectuses — to foreign shores. As often happens when I leave the United States, a trip abroad has sharpened my sense of the special assets that America possesses at home and some of our keenest liabilities.
Bruce Katz · March 20
On Monday, Accelerator for America, Drexel University’s Nowak Metro Finance Lab, the Economic Innovation Group and The Governance Project hosted a packed Opportunity Zone Investor Summit at Stanford. The Summit celebrated a milestone: over the past year, 27 cities have used a common template to design Opportunity Zone Investment Prospectuses to help communicate their assets and unveil projects that are investor ready and community enhancing. While cities have largely constituted the first wave of Prospectus adopters, the tool is already being applied at the metropolitan and neighborhood scales and could form a useful tool for states and rural counties.
Bruce Katz and Ross Baird · March 7
Our continued visits to Opportunity Zones across the country (most recently Austin, Dayton, Kansas City, Norfolk, Baltimore, and San Antonio) and our conversations with literally dozens of practitioners reinforce our sense that the new federal tax incentive is (unexpectedly and slowly) driving the creation of a new system of community economic development. The process of invention is messy, haphazard and chaotic even by U.S. standards, made more complicated by the fact that a new class of investors and a relentless market orientation has been introduced into a system that has been largely dominated by a closed loop of actors motivated by either federal bank regulation or social impact.
Ken Gross, Evan Weiss and Bruce Katz · February 19
The Opportunity Zone incentive is a new community investment tool established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income communities. The Act creates a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their capital gains into dedicated Qualified Opportunity Funds (“QOF”). Of the 8,762 census tracts across the county that have been designated as Opportunity Zones, 2,905 (33%) either contain a hospital or are ½ a mile from a hospital. While much of the early attention given to Opportunity Zone investing has focused on many of the “usual suspect” cities, hospitals and healthcare systems are a unique institution in that they’re represented in almost every kind of community—serving big city neighborhoods, mid-sized cities, small towns, and rural areas. Hospitals can play a leading role in efforts to attract, organize, and even make QOF investments in the communities that they serve.
Bruce Katz · February 13
In the past couple months, the national media has been replete with stories about the pitfalls of Opportunity Zones. Some stories have focused on the curious selection of robust, gentrifying areas Zones, raising the prospect that scarce federal resources will be allocated for projects that would have happened anyway and merely spark more gentrification. Other stories have focused on projects that either benefit well-off global companies or have little social value. There is even a Trump angle to explore given the real estate interests of the Kushner clan.