New Jersey Opportunity Zone Summit and the Release of Our Municipal Toolkit

March 12, 2019 — New Brunswick, NJ. Following a conference put on by the State of New Jersey and The Governance Project, we have released a toolkit for municipal leaders to drive investment towards projects with community benefit.

The New Jersey conference drilled down on what will make Opportunity Zones work in the state. It was attended by over 350 people and featured conversations between stakeholders across the state and presentations of emerging national best practices. During the lunchtime discussion between Governor Murphy and former Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, the Governor announced the creation of five $100,000 grants to support municipalities developing Opportunity Zone projects.

The Governance Project’s Sarah Bianchi kicked off the New Jersey conference. She explained the fundamentals of the incentive as well as some emerging best practices from around the country. Later in the day, The Governance project facilitated a panel between key state agencies — the Redevelopment Authority, the Department of Community Affairs, and the Economic Development Authority — centered on how the public sector can help guide investment to places that are meaningful for communities in Zones. This discussion was framed around a toolkit geared to municipal leaders that we released at the event.

The executive summary of our Municipal Toolkit.

We’ve released this toolkit through conversations with other organizations that are leading the charge to transform community economic development. Together we view Opportunity Zones as one tool in the broader toolkit that local leaders can use to find common purpose between the public and private sectors in putting distressed communities on a path to prosperity. The toolkit covers the five best practices we’ve identified for municipalities to undertake to make sure the Opportunity Zone incentive’s benefits go to local communities and not only investors and developer. You can read it here.



State and Local Officials Tapped to Fuel The Governance Project’s Expansion

Copeland is Named CEO and Mayor Michael Nutter Joins as a Senior Advisor



December 10, 2018Washington DC The Governance Project (TGP)  has named Stephanie Copeland as Chief Executive Officer and announced the addition of former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter as Senior Advisor. Mayor Nutter, together with TGP Senior Advisor Sarah Bianchi, will lead TGP’s community leader engagement initiative.

Copeland joins TGP after serving in Governor John Hickenlooper’s cabinet as Executive Director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Prior to her gubernatorial appointment of state service, Copeland spent nearly three decades in the private sector, most recently as president of the Zayo Group – a communications infrastructure services firm – where she was part of the leadership team that took the company public, assumed full profit and loss responsibilities, and managed operations for Zayo’s network services. “I am thrilled to join The Governance Project and lead the team to build upon the incredible work going on within communities across the country,” Copeland said. 

 “As our first major initiative, we are committed to helping communities and their leaders realize the full potential available within the federal Opportunity Zone legislation.”

Copeland has leveraged her experience in building businesses to drive inclusive growth across Colorado’s economy. During her tenure in the Governor’s Office, she built and launched multiple programs designed to foster sustainable and widespread growth, including Startup Colorado and the Greater Colorado Venture Fund. Under Copeland’s watch, Colorado experienced a record low unemployment rate, achieved GDP growth records, and attained multiple national rankings as one of the nation’s strongest economies.  

Mayor Michael Nutter joins TGP’s Senior Advisor Sarah Bianchi to engage and advise the nation’s mayors and governors on strategies that develop inclusive community-focused investments within Opportunity Zones. Mayor Nutter served as the 98th Mayor of Philadelphia and also served as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Bianchi served as a Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy to the Vice President in the Obama White House and was an investor at Eton Park and a managing director at BlackRock.

“Mayors are at the forefront of American ingenuity. They are the key to making the most of Opportunity Zones.” 

“Since they understand the assets and needs within their communities, they can guide investments towards forward-looking local businesses while also ensuring the benefits are widely shared,” Nutter said. 

During his tenure as Mayor, Philadelphia saw a dramatic reduction in crime, with homicides falling to their lowest level in almost 50 years. He spearheaded education reforms that led to increased rates of high school graduation and college attainment. Philadelphia added hundreds of miles in bike lanes and trails and launched the first low-income friendly bike share system in America. He also redesigned OpenDataPhily, the city’s open data portal, increasing access to data sets including crime data, property assessments and campaign finance. His reform resulted in more targeted community need assessments  and led to the city receiving more than 150 awards for innovative programs.

Mayor Nutter also launched Cities United with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu aimed at creating partnerships between cities, non-profits and other stakeholders to combat violence and crime among African-American boys. He also serves on President Obama’s my Brother’s Keeper Advisory Council, is a member of the Economic and Community advisory Council at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, and is a Senior Adviser at What Works Cities.

About The Governance Project

We are a national non-profit that empowers and equips local communities and community leaders with the ability to drive positive and inclusive outcomes by sharing nationwide expertise and resources. TGP is an innovative public-private model for accelerating policy solutions at the state and local level.