The Opportunity CLE initiative to promote federally sanctioned opportunity zones as catalysts in economically distressed areas throughout Cleveland and Cuyahoga County has been designated as one of the top 20 such efforts in the nation.
Opportunity CLE was created earlier this year, as the result of a collaboration between the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland Development Advisors, the Fund for Our Economic Future and the Cuyahoga Land Bank.
Opportunity Zones offer tax breaks to investors who help finance long-term development projects and/or improvements in low-income census tracts selected by the governor of each state. Of the 320 opportunity zone census tracts in Ohio, 64 are in Cuyahoga County. There are 8,764 opportunity zones nationally.
Business magazine Forbes teamed up with the Sorenson Impact Center–a think tank based at the University of Utah–to recognize community organizations and OZ Funds that are committed to achieving equitable economic growth in underserved and overlooked communities throughout the country. Opportunity CLE and the other selected initiatives were chosen from 113 nationwide applicants for the Forbes OZ 20 Catalyst award.
According to a statement from Forbes, the organization seeks to highlight dynamic approaches to the revitalization of distressed communities:
“By elevating the best examples of opportunity zone work from around the country, we hope to showcase the promise and possibilities of the entire opportunity zone landscape.”
Opportunity CLE created an investment prospectus, digital portal and website— opportunitycle.com—aimed at attracting local and national investment into Cuyahoga County opportunity zones.
The portal is designed to attract investors and unite developers with business owners in opportunity zones. It gives developers and business owners the ability to promote their opportunity zone proposals on a global scale and provides investors with access to a wealth of information through The Opportunity Exchange.
While Opportunity CLE seeks to promote projects that offer attractive financial investments, a heavy emphasis has also been placed upon developments that yield positive social impacts including jobs, training, education, affordable housing, increased access to broadband and more.
“It’s gratifying to be recognized for all of the good, collaborative effort that has gone into promoting and marketing opportunity zones in Cleveland and its suburbs,” said Yvette Ittu, President of Cleveland Development Advisors, the real estate financing affiliate of the Greater Cleveland Partnership. “The ultimate goal is to use the opportunity zone incentives to bring economic development to economically depressed areas of the county and help create jobs and better living conditions for residents.”