Don't Miss Using Opportunity Zones To Attract Families
Monday, November 11, 2019
We miss a lot of what is going on around us. In one experiment, audience members are asked to count the number of times a basketball is passed between six people. A video is played with people passing a basketball. Afterward, the audience is asked how many times the ball was passed. People shout out numbers.
Then the moderator asks, “Did you see the gorilla?”
Replaying the video reveals an obvious gorilla walking through the group of basketball players. Christopher Chabis and Daniel Simons, in their book, The Invisible Gorilla, highlight how our intuition prevents us from missing the obvious.
There is a proverbial economic development gorilla walking around now and most communities are ignoring the potential.
I am talking about Opportunity Zones.
Opportunity Zones are economically-distressed communities that may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. These zones are an economic development tool designed to jump-start economic development and job creation in areas of the country that have not rebounded from the 2008 economic downturn.
In April 2019, the Department of the Treasury announced a second set of regulations clarifying Opportunity Zone rules and reinforcing the U.S. government’s commitment. If you live in a community with an Opportunity Zone, these zones are a powerful economic development tool to utilize. Unfortunately, most communities I talk to are not promoting their Opportunity Zones. Most communities are ignoring the potential investment.
Here are four things you should be doing.
- Take advantage of the Opportunity Zones to build awareness for your community. Business owners, entrepreneurs and investors are using the search term “Opportunity Zone” and your community should use this term in their digital marketing strategy.
- Don’t wait for the next set of rules or “things to settle down.” Promoting your Opportunity Zone now is a winning strategy. There is a cost to missed opportunity. Indecision surrounding Opportunity Zones will lead to future regret.
- Be a leader. If your region has multiple Opportunity Zones, take the time to learn about Opportunity Zones. If you need a quick primer, check out this free webinar, “Opportunity Zone: Marketing Your Zone for Development.”
- Momentum is critical, keep going ahead. The sweet spot for these Opportunity Zone investments will end in 18 – 24 months. After this time, the tax advantages begin to diminish and the investment return may not be as attractive. The time is right now to execute a digital marketing strategy.
Unfortunately, entrepreneurship is not flourishing equally in the United States. For example, “San Francisco and New York account for 40 percent of all high-growth startup hires” (LinkedIn, 2019). The uneven distribution encourages high worker migration away from distressed communities, and largest group of employees today are transient millennials. This unequal distribution creates population shifts that further depress many communities.
Without a workforce and business attraction plan, your community is missing the opportunity to attract millennial entrepreneurs and workers.
Opportunity zones are in areas that have distressed and traumatized workers and are ready for reemployment. By attracting new investment opportunities these workers can become a community asset. These workers have beneficial skills and will reenter the workforce. Because many of these workers are seasoned employees with deep community ties and families they can provide the workforce stability many companies need. This is where Opportunity Zones can benefit communities. These Zones will attract investment to the communities that need the productivity the most.
If you are a distressed community with opportunity zones and have not put together a marketing plan, please, please start the process. These opportunity zones have the potential to help communities attract investment dollars that doesn’t usually flow into distressed communities.
Now is the time to see the gorilla. Now is the time to promote your community with Opportunity Zones.