Greater Grays Harbor Inc. of Aberdeen Washington hosted a packed Opportunity Zone event of nearly 100 community stakeholders at the Quinault Beach Resort & Casino on April 11th. With a crowd mixture of local and federal government staff, congressional and senate representatives, investors and community stakeholders there was a lot of excitement surrounding how local communities can take the reins in creating local Opportunity Zone strategies that are unique to the coastal communities in Washington State.
The event started out with a presentation from Melissa LaFayette, Assistant Director from the National Development Council. Melissa set the stage of the event by providing an overview of the Opportunity Zone program. Next we heard from Julie Knott from Clallam County Economic Development Corporation who is the lead for the Emerald Coast Opportunity Zone. Julie is a true leader in helping the Emerald Coast Opportunity Zone communities come together, collaborate, and create strategies on identifying projects and attracting investment. This group will be a group to keep your eye on as they continue to raise the bar not only regionally but also nationally as a model on how rural communities can collaborate on creating a robust Opportunity Zone strategy. Julie’s presentation segwayed nicely into the next presenter, Kyle Wiese, Founder & Managing Member of Opportunity Zone Investments (OZI™). Kyle spoke about two main strategies in helping communities maximize their Opportunity Zones. These strategies include recruiting Opportunity Funds to Opportunity Zone communities and mobilizing local capital to create place based Opportunity Funds that invest in local community projects. Then Craig Nolte, Regional Manager for Community Development with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco was the anchor of the four panelists who spoke to the roll of the Federal Reserve Bank through the lens of Opportunity Zones.
Throughout these presentations, the crowd was invited to ask questions and it was through the Q&A that it became clear that participants were interested in diving into the details of the program as they assess how their communities and/or investment strategies can leverage the program. Through many post event conversations, it was clear that there were a handful individuals who are interested in creating Opportunity Funds and directing investment into their communities.
Next up, the Thurston Economic Development Council of Thurston County (the host of Washington State’s Capital, Olympia) will be hosting a similar event on April 30th, 2019. For more information on this event visit https://opportunityzoneinvestments.com/events/the-opportunity-in-opportunity-zones/.
Written by Kyle Wiese, Founder & Managing Member of OZI™.