Research

The most crucial component of developing a prospectus is the research and gathering phase to ensure the most complete data is compiled for presentation. 

Your prospectus must include growth expectations, workforce availability, infrastructure, demographics, community goals, and an investor section. This is a complete representation of your community and the opportunity for growth. 

The prospectus is the first impression investors will have of the opportunity zone and your community. This document should entice investors to call and learn more about the opportunity zone. 

We recommend the following sections and information to guide you through the process:

  • Organizational & Community Analysis: Identify key messages, targeted industries, opportunity zone desired uses, geographical boundaries and goals for the future strategy. 
  • Marketing Assessment: Review your current brand implementation and marketing plan with a review of all the marketing assets. 
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify other competitive communities and their approaches.

Another important element to research is the opportunity zone itself. These zones are identified by census tract and can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Provide maps of the Opportunity Zone tracts in your area that accurately illustrate the tracts and neighborhoods in your community. 

Identify the assets of these tracts compared to other parcels in the community. For example, study the housing rates and costs, access to infrastructure (including broadband), look at daycare locations, distance to health care facilities, education routes and accessibility and other pertinent access points. This information will provide the basis for a needs assessment document to determine the desired opportunity zone uses and information to inform investors of the positive social benefits at play. 

Gather existing community plans and consolidate goals where possible. Look at municipal master plans, housing plans, economic development documents, educational plans, and recreational plans. These plans will provide the necessary evidence to support investment into your community and to easily explain why opportunity zone investments will yield results. 

After considering all the zone demographics, broaden the research scope to the community in general. Consolidate and gather community demographics and regulations. Your plan should include details about unemployment, income levels, education levels, zoning regulations, tax base, commercial growth trends, and projected population levels.

Gather available environmental impact statements or studies. Investors and community members need to understand what environmental conditions exist for each site. Full disclosure of potential environmental concerns will make sure a good opportunity is not lost due to miscommunication. 

Research and present all the possible incentives for an opportunity zone project. This incentives repository should include future upgrades to roads, water and sewer, and broadband. Investors and developers need to understand which public financing programs available: Tax Increment Finance, Bonds, Property Assessed Clean Energy, State Funding Programs, Abatements, and Federal Financing Options. 

Your opportunity zone plan and prospectus must include workforce development efforts and any programs available for new enterprises. These distressed communities face challenges with workforce skill levels. Demonstrating how an unskilled workforce will be transformed and available to a new enterprise will entice companies who are facing workforce challenges. 

Lastly, look for educational partnerships and programs to increase the workforce skill level. Encourage the local educational institutions to share goals and programs designed to attract new workers to the area and to provide the skills needed to fill employment gaps. 

Download The Complete Step-By-Step Guide To Opportunity Zones

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