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.
Bruce Katz · January 30
In the past week, there has been a flurry of articles about mayors (and former mayors) running for president (see, e.g., http://time.com/5510973/pete-buttigieg-mayors-president/). The announcements of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (and the likely announcements of former mayors like Senator Cory Booker and (former) Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper) have clearly captivated the media.
Bruce Katz · January 16
As many of us involved in cities know, the indirect effects of large policy changes are often more important than the direct ones. The development of cities in the latter half of the 20th century was driven more by the Interstate Highway Act (negative) and the Immigration Reform Act of 1965 (positive) than by any law with “Urban” or “City” in the title. The Opportunity Zones tax incentive is shaping up as another federal intervention with multiple, indirect effects.
Bruce Katz, Co-authored with Ross Baird · January 3
Happy New Year!
As many of you know, I (and a group of fellow travelers) have become virtually obsessed with building a new set of local institutions that align with our 21st century economy and society and unlock and deploy capital for a new kind of purposeful growth.
Bruce Katz, Co-authored with Evan Weiss · December 19
For the past year, US cities have been transfixed by Amazon’s intention to build a second headquarters. An incredible 238 cities prepared bids to woo the tech behemoth and, in many cases, offered a plethora of incentives, ranging from enormous tax abatements to infrastructure improvements, free land and special fiber broadband networks.