National Economic Development Non-Profit Thought Leaders Collaborate to Publish First Nationwide Opportunity Zones Typology Whitepaper

Urban experts Bruce Katz and Colin Higgins release the first place-based national analysis of Opportunity Zones and highlight the key indicators of success.

Denver, CO – The Governance Project (TGP), Accelerator for America and Drexel University’s Nowak Metro Finance Lab announce today, the release of “Opportunity Zones and Urban Revitalization: a place-based approach to the emerging market”. The first-of-its-kind analysis works to reveal new insights and tools to best foster inclusive local development in communities across the country.

Accelerator for America partner and director of Drexel University’s Nowak Metro Finance Lab, Bruce Katz and TGP’s Colin Higgins detail national opportunity zone typologies and what they mean for stakeholders in the public, private and civic sectors.

Three key findings illustrate to investors, economic developers and influencers what the majority of job-rich and investment ready opportunity zones across the nation really look like. Among its key findings, the whitepaper spotlights:

1) Key geographical patterns that can help scale success while guarding against abuse

2) A place-based typology that can support a new place-based investment model

3) Employment centers can play a vital role in making opportunity zones work for their communities

The whitepaper pairs its key findings with essential actions required by local communities to successfully attract the desired opportunity zone investments.  

Read a summary of the paper here and the full paper here.


The Governance Project and New Jersey Economic Development Authority Share Opportunity Zone Best Practices with National Governor’s Association

Debuts Opportunity Zone Toolkit for Governors

June 24, 2019 – Washington, D.C. For immediate release: The Governance Project and New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) presented state leaders at the National Governor’s Association with national best practices for leveraging Opportunity Zones that attract transformative community investment and cultivate sustainable economic growth. The forum combined best practice insights from The Governance Project’s national focus on inclusion, education and engagement with the critical local stakeholder perspectives from the NJEDA.

The Governance Project released its new “Governor’s Toolkit for Opportunity Zones” at the event which outlines step-by-step strategies and provides states with best practices – such as the value that anchor institutions like universities and hospitals can play as key mediators for community focused opportunity zones.

Emphasizing the vital role that city/municipality support and technical assistance plays in Opportunity Zone success, The Governance Project shared the insights and practical applications derived from active community discussions across the country that are helping states and municipalities strategically deploy resources and develop local capacity. “State governments are playing an essential role in helping communities organize, identify opportunity and attract capital,” Stephanie Copeland, CEO of The Governance Project, explained. “This is especially true for the communities in distressed tracts who do not have the capacity to dedicate resources and focus necessary to truly leverage this generational incentive.”

Decision Support tool from the Governor’s Toolkit for Opportunity Zones

The NJEDA expanded on these insights, drawing on first-hand experience in communities such as Newark, Trenton, and Bridgeton to illustrate the important role collaboration plays in educating diverse stakeholders and the need for the communication tools and grants that drive local engagement. Under Governor Phil Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is focusing on the potential for Opportunity Zones to both catalyze responsible investment and optimize community capacity building. This dual focus, which works to create Stronger and Fairer communities, has made NJ a national thought leader for state Opportunity Zone strategy. New Jersey’s Opportunity Zone strategy incorporates best practices from both government and philanthropic arenas, and will align with Governor Murphy’s proposed incentive programs to enhance economic activity in underserved communities throughout the state.

“The Governance Project has been an indispensable partner in developing one of the most robust, comprehensive Opportunity Zone programs in the nation. We are proud to work with The Governance Project along with Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver and our partners across state government, to foster community-driven, equitable growth in New Jersey’s most underserved cities and neighborhoods.”

NJEDA CEO, Tim Sullivan

“Governor Murphy and the NJEDA are focused on building a stronger, fairer economy in New Jersey. Opportunity Zones are a key part of that strategy, and we are using them to strategically drive job creation, downtown revitalization, and small business growth in communities that need support most,” said NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan. “The Governance Project has been an indispensable partner in developing one of the most robust, comprehensive Opportunity Zone programs in the nation. We are proud to work with The Governance Project along with Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver and our partners across state government, to foster community-driven, equitable growth in New Jersey’s most underserved cities and neighborhoods.”


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.