Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Atlanta will become the second city to participate in The Rockefeller Foundation’s Opportunity Zone Community Capacity Building Initiative. The initiative, which launched in May 2019, aims to help U.S. cities attract responsible private investment in economically-distressed communities through Opportunity Zones created in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“Opportunity Zones are an exciting new tool for building economic development in underserved communities,” said Mayor Bottoms. “These grants will help guide us as we implement the program to maximize the benefits of job creation and neighborhood improvement in the most vulnerable areas of our city. Thank you to the Rockefeller Foundation for this commitment that will advance equity citywide, as we continue to build One Atlanta, and provide a level playing field for all.”
Atlanta, which has more than 82,000 residents living in 26 designated Opportunity Zones, will receive $920,000 in grants and supportive services, including a $400,000 grant to establish and fund a Chief Opportunity Zone Officer embedded in Invest Atlanta, the City of Atlanta’s economic development authority. Funding will also support the placement of two AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) members who will facilitate community involvement in proposed Opportunity Zone projects and businesses; and technical assistance to help develop project pipelines that balance the interests of investors with those of existing community members.
“Opportunity Zones are the first federal incentive for community development in 15 years and a unique opportunity to leverage private capital to help achieve Atlanta’s economic and community development goals,” said Dr. Eloisa Klementich, President and CEO of Invest Atlanta. “Invest Atlanta has been a first mover in the city with Opportunity Zones and partnerships with the Rockefeller Foundation and Cities of Service will help us further the goal of bringing meaningful investment and greater equity to our communities.”
“As the wealth gap in the United States continues to widen, we recognize how a zip code impacts the economic opportunities for a community and its residents,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. “Atlanta has shown strong commitment to ensuring investment in its Opportunity Zones are designed with the most vulnerable in mind, and we are pleased to provide additional support to ultimately lift up these communities by enabling new pathways to economic mobility.”
The Rockefeller Foundation also announced it will award a $600,000 grant to Cities of Service, an independent nonprofit organization that helps mayors build stronger, more vibrant cities by changing the way local government and citizens work together. Cities of Service will provide Atlanta and five other cities participating in the Foundation’s Opportunity Zones initiative with technical assistance and two AmeriCorps VISTA members who will lead and manage community engagement efforts in each city. Through this effort, Cites of Service will help selected cities achieve positive economic and social outcomes for their communities through community-informed Opportunity Zone efforts.
For more information about Opportunity Zones in the City of Atlanta, including development projects seeking investment, visit www.atlopportunityzones.com.