The Minnesota Opportunity Collective (MNOppCo) is fully funded for the year ahead thanks to the support of four 2021 funding partners:
- Southwest Initiative Foundation
- MN Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation
- MN Department of Employment and Economic Development
- LISC Duluth
MNOppCo is a partnership that seeks to inspire investment in Minnesota’s 128 federally designated opportunity zones. Bringing together developers, investors, businesses, and community development entities, the partnership hosts a statewide project and site directory, holds educational events, and shares best practices on a regular basis.
As of March 2021, the MNOppCo Directory had 63 sites and projects listed. Projects and sites have received 52 known communications from national funds through messaging platform The Opportunity Exchange.
Throughout 2020, MNOppCo held a webinar series focused on facilitating social and economic impact through long-term, private investment. The series launched in June 2019. Initially held monthly, it now takes place every other month. The webinar series will continue starting in May 2021.
The 12 webinars to-date have attracted an average audience of 40-60 attendees. Topics in 2020 included a federal resources panel, an accountant discussing the latest regulations, the modeling of a new tool to help projects with financial projections, and a success story of equitable community engagement around an opportunity zone project in West St. Paul. All past webinars are available at https://mnoppco.com/events.
MNOppCo has also coordinated 21 workshops across Minnesota since the start of 2019. These workshops shifted to a digital format in 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In September 2019, MNOppCo hosted the Be Inspired Summit, which attracted over 140 attendees and awarded over $30,000 in predevelopment grants to winning projects in the MN OZ Challenge.
Successful MNOppCo developments have taken place in opportunity zones all over the state, from small towns such as Silver Bay to the Lake Street corridor in Minneapolis in the aftermath of May 2020 civil unrest. Continued interest has been steady in the initiative and outreach to MNOppCo staff from interested parties following regulatory changes to accommodate coronavirus-related project delays.
Taking this into account, MNOppCo plans for 2021 include:
- Continue to maintain the statewide MNOppCo Directory
- Continue relationship with The Opportunity Exchange and offer its Introduce Tool highlighting OZs to interested communities
- Continue to collect and offer opportunity zone resources
- Support opportunity zone stakeholders, community-level partners, and their initiatives such as the LISC Duluth Project Portal, and respond to any new trends related to the incentive
Learn more and get involved with MNOppCo at https://mnoppco.com/!