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Smart Growth

Leveraging Opportunity Zones for Community Revitalization

Tools to Advance Community Revitalization Efforts

EPA's Office of Community Revitalization (OCR) works with other federal agencies to align resources to support community-driven solutions towards improvement of economic, environmental, community, and human health outcomes. OCR has expertise in convening community, local, state, federal, and private-sector actors to help communities strategically plan for the use of public and private capital (such as Opportunity Zone financing) and implement their plans for economic growth and environmental protection.

To help communities leverage their Opportunity Zone (OZ) designations, OCR delivered technical assistance and developed tools to assist economically distressed communities and increase their capacity to align, direct, and leverage private-sector capital. These tools are intended to help communities with plan implementation, including overcoming project financing barriers to attract private capital. The tools are designed to help communities advance their plans and visions for redevelopment and revitalization while prioritizing specific needs and preserving community character. The community prospectus tool is aimed at creating an investment strategy focused on creating equitable, sustainable, and thriving places. The development finance tool and strategies for engaging investors speak more directly to financial programs and incentives and communicating directly with the investment community. The documents listed below are available for download at the bottom of this page:

  • Building a Community Prospectus outlines a 7-step process for developing a community prospectus with strategies and case study examples that promote equity, sustainability, and thriving communities. It is designed to help communities articulate their vision, priorities, and assets and develop incentives and guardrails for attracting investment.
  • Leveraging Development Finance Tools to Attract Opportunity Zone Investment provides an overview of various development finance tools and how communities can use those tools to finance projects located in Opportunity Zones. Assembled together, these tools, including public-sector grants and loans, targeted tools, and incentives, can help form the capital stack.
  • Five Strategies for Engaging Opportunity Zone Investors includes key things to know about OZ investors and ideas for engaging with investors in equitable community development projects and helps communities get started in demonstrating readiness for investment.

Opportunity Zone (OZ) Mapper

The OZ Mapper Exit (opens in new window or tab) includes:

  • Environmental, health, social, and economic data that are critical for understanding and advancing community revitalization goals.
  • Data about each Opportunity Zone, such as the presence of brownfields, flood plains, impaired waters, air quality nonattainment areas, walkability scores, environmental justice data, areas with limited access to food, and other data that might factor into a community's vision for redevelopment.
  • Data from several government agencies, including EPA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Census Bureau, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as a map feature that allows users to explore and visualize a broader group of data layers on health and environmental factors.
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