Monday, March 6, 2023
Newton Presents Closing the Opportunity Gap Today At Florida State
Deanna Newton (Pepperdine) presents Closing the Opportunity Gap at Florida State today as part of its Law and Business Speaker Series hosted by Jeffrey Kahn:
Researchers have found little to no evidence that Opportunity Zones positively impact zone residents’ lives. Scholars agree that the majority of benefits from Opportunity Zone legislation go to wealthy investors and should be reformed to better benefit community members. This Article argues that current reform efforts and related scholarship do not give adequate weight to active and direct participation by community members and investors. This Article proposes two novel policy reforms for the Opportunity Zone program, which fills a growing gap in Opportunity Zone literature. First, investors should be required to buy into the community financially or personally. Buy-in would entail a one-time lump sum payment to a community fund or a community service pledge to ensure actualized commitment to community development. Second, a percentage of each Opportunity Zone should be reserved for current community members to invest in. Investors are currently not required to finance projects geared toward the needs of local communities, and are instead funding developments they would have already invested in, whether located in an Opportunity Zone or not.
I argue for a comprehensive framework that focuses on active and direct participation by community members and investors. My proposal focuses on transformative participation – participation that will require buy-in by investors and ownership by community members.