April 27, 2019

Categories: NMTC, Sustainability,

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For nearly two years, PIDC has been working with a 100+ member Advisory Committee on Impact Development that includes for-profit and nonprofit developers, community development organizations, bankers, investors, philanthropic leaders, and city officials. The committee plays an important role in helping PIDC to understand challenges, gaps, and opportunities for impactful real estate projects so that we can develop products and services to meet those needs in Philadelphia. This group has helped to also guide and inform our efforts to maximize the positive impact of Opportunity Zones.

Most recently, the group convened for a meeting at the beginning of April which included a look at new communication tools available for developers and investors at the Opportunity Zone section of, a conversation on Opportunity Zones with Bruce Katz of Drexel University’s Nowak Metro Finance Lab and Larry Jacob of the Kauffman Foundation, and a presentation from Emily Schapira of the Philadelphia Energy Authority on Pennsylvania C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy).

Philadelphia Opportunity Zone Tools
PIDC encourages developers and investors to utilize the new Opportunity Zones page on the Philadelphia Delivers website to discover local communities with great development potential. This page was created to help showcase the potential of Philadelphia’s Opportunity Zones and convey information about the kinds of positive community impacts that the City is seeking to support in these areas, such as affordable housing, quality childcare, job creation, and more.

The page includes:

  • Highlight Areas — An individual prospectus for seven highlight areas to provide more detailed information about what could be built in these designated Opportunity Zones where revitalization is already taking place.
  • Additional Location-Based Incentives — maps of the availability of other existing local incentives to support business growth and development in Opportunity Zones.
  • NEW! Project Information Exchange — a new tool aimed to connect developers of real estate projects in Opportunity Zones with investors.

The Project Information Exchange will display a map of projects to be accessible to investors and fund managers to use to search for investment opportunities and connect with project developers.

Developers of real estate projects can submit a project to the database to be displayed on the Project Information Exchange, by providing project details and contact information here:

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PIDC also highlighted the Golaski Labs project — the first project that PIDC is investing in which also has secured capital through an Opportunity Fund investment. Golaski Labs is a $7.5 million 45,000 SF mixed-use development located in a designated Opportunity Zone census tract within the historic Philadelphia community of Wayne Junction. The property will be converted to a mixed-use commercial and residential development by long-time PIDC client, Mosaic Development Partners. At the meeting, PIDC recognized Mosaic partner Leslie Smallwood-Lewis and PIDC’s loan officer Lawrence McComie for their work on this exciting project. PIDC invested an allocation of New Markets Tax Credits into the project based on its strong community impacts, which provide a significant subsidy that made the economics of the deal possible, while the developer leveraged the project’s location within a qualified Opportunity Zone to attract a new type of equity investor to the deal.

National Perspectives on Opportunity Zones & Philanthropy
Next, Bruce Katz and Larry Jacob shared what’s happening in other markets with Opportunity Zones and how philanthropy is engaging in this work.

The Kauffman Foundation’s website states that 81% of entrepreneurs do not access a bank loan or venture capital. The foundation is looking at alternative forms of capital that can come alongside the Opportunity Zone Fund equity investment in Kansas City, the foundation’s hometown. Larry, who serves as vice president of public affairs for the Kauffman Foundation, sees this as a way to potentially assist areas of failed urban renewal that they’ve been talking about in the local community for the last 50 years. “Let’s put all the tools together. I’m meeting with other philanthropies that have their own land. We’re focused on education and entrepreneurship,” said Larry. “All of those elements help make the community stronger.”

Bruce, who is co-founder and inaugural director of the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation’s Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University, shared his perspective on Opportunity Zones. He proposed utilizing Opportunity Zones as a vehicle to get high net-worth individuals to keep their local wealth local. “As we go around the country — I may have been to more [Opportunity] Zones than anyone else in the United States — what I’d think you’d find is, actually, the wealth is local,” he said. “The biggest export in many communities, for decades, has been wealth. If we could even take a portion of this capital and bring it home, not as an impact investing, not as philanthropy, but as real market returns, that rewires capitalism in the United States.”

New Tools for Financing Energy Efficiency
Emily shared how Philadelphia C-PACE catapults economic development by helping commercial, industrial, and agricultural properties in the commonwealth become more energy and water efficient. C-PACE is an innovative financial tool for property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation projects. Emily shared that the program’s goal is to create 10,000 jobs over 10 years. They are currently at 1,200 jobs.

“We view energy as a tool for impact — an economic development tool, a job creation tool,” said Emily. “We look at this really as a vehicle for alleviating poverty. In Philadelphia, with such entrenched poverty, there are two things that energy can do that are helpful. One is reducing household expenses and creating safe, healthy, livable, affordable homes. The other is improving public health — both indoor and outdoor air quality.” Emily stated that she has not seen large energy users move forward on big energy efficient projects in Philadelphia at the pace she’s seen it happen in other locations, but one reason may be simply not knowing or being exposed to opportunities. “Hopefully, C-Pace is one thing that will drive that,” she said.

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