Business and Community Leaders Leverage Expert Insights at O-Zone Ready Workshop
Yesterday, the New Orleans Business Alliance held its first O-Zone Ready event, a comprehensive workshop and expert analysis of the Federal Opportunity Zone program. The event served as a way for diverse stakeholders to come together to learn about the impacts this legislation has.
First introduced by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones are designed to drive long-term investment in low-income neighborhoods. Specifically, tax benefits created under the act encourage investors to re-invest their capital gains into Opportunity Funds, which are dedicated to investing in designated low-income areas.
New Orleans has 25 Opportunity Zones, including Algiers, Claiborne Corridor, New Orleans East, and other areas that traditionally face underinvestment. To see if your business or property is eligible for the program, check out this map of New Orleans Opportunity Zones.
O-Zone Ready Workshop Brings Together Business Leaders and Community Stakeholders
Entrepreneurs, real estate developers, and investors participated in the full-day workshop at the Jung Hotel & Residences to leverage expert insights and network with community leaders. These disparate groups came together to better understand how this single legislation impacts them all.
“This is the first time we’ve had this level of intentionality to bring in professionals in the field to give communities the ammunition to move beyond transactional tools toward transformational ones,” says Norman Barnum, CFO of the New Orleans Business Alliance on the importance of the O-Zone Ready workshop.
Guest speakers for the event included Anu Varadharajan of KPMG and Angela Cristy, Bo Kemp, David Bartoletti, Emma Rodriguez-Ayala, and Zeke Johnson of Faegre Baker Daniels. The speakers presented on taxable gains, fund formation and management, and investment exit and distribution. Participants also attended breakout sessions to further explore how Venture Capital and Real Estate interact with Opportunity Zones.
As Bo Kemp, Senior Director at Faebre Baker Daniels, gave an overview of Federal Opportunity Zones, he noted that this deliberate investment in strategic neighborhoods may be the single biggest development opportunity that we have seen on a national scale in decades.
“The goal is to be able to reach and grow small businesses in Qualified Opportunity Zones, bringing the entire community up with them,” says Anu Varadharajan, Director of Alternative Investments at KPMG. Varadharajan also encouraged participants to think about their communities needs’ and how they can facilitate investment to those ends.