(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser launched an interactive website – OZmarketplace.dc.gov – to better connect local development projects and businesses in the District’s designated Opportunity Zones seeking equity investment from Qualified Opportunity Funds with potential investors. The website also features the OZ Community Corps, a network of DC-based professional service providers, including lawyers, accountants, and financial advisers, who will provide pro bono consultations to residents, small businesses, and nonprofits based in Opportunity Zones. Providers can sign up to volunteer through the website.
“We are focused on leveraging the Opportunity Zones incentive to create new jobs, amenities, and economic opportunities for DC neighborhoods that need them most,” said Mayor Bowser. “With the OZ Marketplace and Community Corps, we are providing existing residents and small businesses owners with the expertise and platforms they need to navigate potential Opportunity Zone transactions.”
Created in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones is a federal program that provides tax incentives for investments in new businesses and commercial projects in low-income communities. On April 2018, Mayor Bowser nominated 25 census tracts to be Opportunity Zones. The U.S. Department of Treasury certified these tracts on May 18, 2018.
The Opportunity Zones incentive is a tool that can be leveraged to support public and community economic growth priorities. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development is focused on aligning OZ investments with community priorities, supporting community-driven projects seeking investment, and maximizing benefits to existing residents, businesses and organizations. The District’s priorities for OZ investment include:
- Deliver new, neighborhood-serving amenities, such as retail and fresh food grocers
- Provide investment capital and growth opportunities for DC small businesses, particularly those led by underrepresented entrepreneurs
- Create jobs for DC residents and pathways to the middle class
- Increase affordable and workforce housing
Additionally, DMPED is seeking input on ways to support small commercial space users -- including local retailers, light manufacturers, startups, nonprofits, arts and culture organizations, etc. -- in securing affordable commercial space, with a focus on users located in Opportunity Zones. Responses are due on July 17, 2019. Read the Request for Information here.