August 2020 Newsletter
Opportunity Virginia One Year Later
How a Team Formed and Evolved to Make a Difference
Pictured: Downtown Galax, Virginia. Credit Randy S. Leagan Photography
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 introduced a new tax incentive intended to boost economic development in under-resourced communities and tied the benefits to specially designated census tracts dubbed Opportunity Zones (OZs). In response, Virginia Housing, Virginia Department of Housing and Community, and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, helped create Opportunity Virginia. The new program led by LOCUS and Virginia Community Capital set about launching an OZ market place designed to leverage the incentive and drive revitalization in Virginia's under-invested communities.

This month, we sidebar with the Opportunity Virginia team as they celebrate their first anniversary with the release of the program’s 2019-20 annual report. The report includes data and project profiles that show the team's dedication to delivering on the original intent of the program: igniting impact investments in the Commonwealth's OZs. Click here for our conversation with Director of Project Development Rebecca Richardson, where we introduce the initiative to newcomers, take stock of lessons learned, and look ahead to what’s next for Virginia’s premiere OZ marketplace.
Sustainable Community for All
Conference for Growing Community Foundations
The Kansas Association of Community Foundations will take its annual national conference virtual this year. The theme, "Sustainable Community for All," examines how rural and urban communities are still striving to thrive in an era of intense upheaval and challenge. The new online format will allow participants to access the content live or listen to the recording later at their convenience. The program offers multiple ways to connect, from “blind-dates” matched by conference-goer interests to group discussions, interactive sessions, special events, and virtual “bar hopping.”

LOCUS will lead a session titled "Local Investing in a Time of Crisis - Strategies that Support Sustainable, Equitable Development in Our Communities." During the discussion, we will dig into how impact investors can reimagine and rebuild via local investing strategies. We'll share models for local investing, explore the pros and cons of these designs including how donors are engaged, and address some of the key questions raised by foundation staff, boards, and investment committees. Click here to register for the convening.
Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide
Regional Solutions for Rural and Urban Challenges
Back in June, we published Regional Solutions for Rural and Urban Challenges, a new report examining how organizations are employing an innovative strategy of pan-regional collaboration to improve social and economic outcomes in under-resourced communities.

Project Co-Director Brian Dabson contributed an article on the initiative to the journal State and Local Government Review where he provides an overview of the work and discusses how regional stakeholders are defying the stereotypical rural-urban polarization to uplift everyone. Click here to read Brian's article.
Opportunity Zone Updates
On August 18th at 9 AM, Opportunity Virginia is hosting a workshop for OZ stakeholders and practitioners. Focused on Prince William County and the Northern Virginia region, the talk will feature an introduction to the program from DHCD Director Erik Johnston and an overview of how Prince William's Department of Economic Development is pairing the incentive with other redevelopment initiatives. Opportunity Virginia's Rebecca Richardson will follow up with an "OZ 101" presentation explaining the basics and how OZs can be leveraged in both real estate and operating business projects. Click here to register for the talk.
News from
the Field
Where You'll Find LOCUS
Since COVID-19 has upended so many practitioners' travel, please see below a list of helpful virtual gatherings and learnings...

Aug. 18 | Virtual
Opportunity Virginia's Becca Richardson gives an "OZ 101" presentation and community leaders discuss Prince William's OZ efforts.

Oct. 26-27 | Virtual
LOCUS Impact Investing will lead a session during KACF's annual conference.
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