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Impact of Opportunity Zones was recently covered by Barrons.

Investors who want to make a positive social and environmental impact while earning a financial return would seem naturally drawn to investing in “opportunity zones,” low income-areas throughout the US designated by governors in each state as in need of economic development. Regulatory language outlining practices for investing in these 8,700 zones offers no assurance to investors or community members that funds investing in these economically distressed areas will have that kind of impact.

The US Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University announced a voluntary reporting framework that offers best practices for fund managers and investors. Opportunity zones are a “once in a generation opportunity to drive very needed capital into distressed communities.” People investing in opportunity zones are getting considerable tax advantages. The problem for investors who want to grab these tax savings is that many of the guidelines for investing in QOZ funds are unclear.

The US Treasury is expected to issue further clarity on a range of issues via a series of regulations over this year and next. At a minimum, the alliance wants QOZ funds to be required to provide basic QOZ funds and market-level data, including the number of assets raised and where they’re being deployed. The purpose of opportunity zone legislation was to stimulate market-based activity in low-income, high-poverty areas, and to sustain that activity with incentives for long-term investment in communities that otherwise would have been ignored.

A robust effort on the part of philanthropists and other private sector actors is an effort to ensure that the communities served by QOZ funds achieve real results. The Rockefeller and Kresge Foundations are seeking to support fund managers who can demonstrate their intent to “ensure positive outcomes” in the designated communities with grant capital. The Beeck Center is creating an opportunity zone council of potential investors committed to adopting the voluntary reporting framework.

Read the full article here.