California Opportunity Zone Partnership Launches

Organized by Nonprofit Accelerator for America, Partners Include State of California, Energy Foundation, Cities of Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles

SAN FRANCISCO — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Advisory Council Chair of the nonprofit Accelerator for America, was joined by California Treasurer John Chiang, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Malia Cohen, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo today to launch the California Opportunity Zone Partnership.

Accelerator for America organized the partnership with the generous support of the Energy Foundation.  So-called “opportunity tax incentives” were included in the federal tax bill enacted at the end of 2017, and the Accelerator’s work on Opportunity Zones is grounded in the belief that just as private enterprises go through new tax laws to identify and take advantage of every opportunity available to them, so too should local governments.

“There is a lot not to like in the tax bill handed down from Washington, but we owe it to our communities to master any benefit to be found in it, just like corporate America does,” Mayor Garcetti said. “The California Opportunity Zone Partnership is about cities helping themselves, and each other, by helping bring investments and jobs into neighborhoods that need them most.”

“Our nickname may be the Golden State, but there are still swaths of our state that are decidedly not golden at the moment — they have been largely bypassed by the economic recovery. We must do something to help. Pooling the resources of Accelerator for America, private investors, and my office, we can build new ladders of opportunity that grow the middle-class and ensure a golden future for all Californians,” said Treasurer Chiang.

“Opportunity Zones are an exciting way to steer investment into economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in San Francisco,” said Mayor London Breed. “This tool will incentivize businesses and community development organizations to invest in our underserved areas, creating jobs and supporting local merchants. We are looking forward to working with the Accelerator and fellow Mayors to share best practices so we can all strengthen our communities together.”

“People are fearful that they will not be able to remain in San Francisco. So I am excited to be here and join this group of leaders. There’s one thing that connects each and everyone of us, and that is: the desire for opportunity, the desire for all of us to prosper. Although San Francisco is benefitting overall and is reaping the benefits of low unemployment rates, there are still communities we are leaving behind. And so therefore I submit to you that we are not successful until everyone is prospering,” said Supervisor Cohen.

“I am excited to be a part of the launch of the California Opportunity Zone Partnership,” said Mayor Schaaf. “For those of us who are a part of this partnership, this is the opportunity for our long-time residents and our residents that have been historically blocked and left out of opportunity to actually be first to benefit from this new program. We all benefit when we walk forward together and recognize that thoughtful investment in San Francisco benefits Oakland; a thoughtful investment in Los Angeles or in San Jose benefits the people of Oakland. When you expand affordable housing in your communities, you take the pressure off mine. We are not competition, we are in partnership.”

“We have extraordinary opportunities for urban renewal in the opportunity zone package, and we’re doing while Washington isn’t doing anything around urban policy,” said Mayor Liccardo. “There are two twin crises that we face in each of our cities: affordable housing and climate change. These are critical issues that we can meet head on with the help of opportunity zones and with this partnership.”

During Phase 1 of the Partnership, grants will be given to three small-to- medium-sized California cities to help them attract inclusive investments into their Opportunity Zones. In addition, experts from the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Los Angeles will provide support to the cities awarded the grants. During Phase 2, lessons-learned in these grant cities will be used to inform state policy and legislation to help cities of all sizes across the state maximize Opportunity Zone investments while avoiding the negative impacts of gentrification and displacement.

The announcement was made in advance of a meeting convened by Accelerator for America on Opportunity Zones and attended by Mayors, CEOs, labor leaders, financial institutions, non-profits and community stakeholders.

Accelerator for America is currently working with the mayors of South Bend, IN; Oklahoma City, OK; and Louisville, KY to help them develop plans to secure Opportunity Zone investments with the intent that they can serve as templates for other cities.

Accelerator for America is also is working with local governments across the country to help them succeed in generating local infrastructure revenues. An example is Los Angeles County’s Measure M, which was approved in November 2016 and generates $120 billion and 465,000 career jobs. On that same election day, which also elected Donald Trump to the White House, local governments nationwide approved $230 billion in local infrastructure improvements.

Accelerator for America is a national nonprofit launched in November 2017 that’s focused on launching local initiatives on jobs and infrastructure that can be replicated city-by-city across the nation. It is led by an Advisory Council comprising mayors, founders, CEOs, angel investors, experts and nonprofit leaders.