BIRMINGHAM, AL – Opportunity Alabama has partnered with Blueprint Local to support its work on Opportunity Zone-based projects across the state of Alabama. Blueprint Local is a national platform to help investors deploy capital thoughtfully in their communities, and has been active in Texas and the mid-Atlantic.
Since September 2018, Opportunity Alabama (or OPAL) has been building the ecosystem necessary to connect investors with investable assets in Alabama’s Opportunity Zones. Its focus has been identifying quality real estate projects and businesses located in Opportunity Zones that could (if they receive capital) have substantial positive impact on the surrounding community.
To date, OPAL has provided the connections to capital and technical assistance necessary to spur over $100 million in new investment across Alabama. These projects range from a $12 million senior care facility in an abandoned high school in Heflin, Alabama to a $20 million workforce housing project in downtown Birmingham that will provide free living space for a local nonprofit.
OPAL will partner with Blueprint Local to provide diligence and underwriting services for the hundreds of potential impact-oriented investment opportunities it has identified across the state. “We are building an investment platform at OPAL that we intend to leverage to accelerate Alabama’s economic recovery,” said Alex Flachsbart, Founder and CEO of Opportunity Alabama. “We are thrilled to have a nationally recognized partner like Blueprint to help us build that platform.”
Blueprint Local, a joint venture between Brown Advisory and a group of national investors committed to strengthening underserved parts of the country, invests in entrepreneurs and real estate opportunities in economically distressed areas across the country. Blueprint Local aims to change the way communities connect with capital – bringing together investors, landowners, developers, and community members to collaborate in revitalizing their neighborhoods. Blueprint’s prior projects include flagship economic development initiatives such as the redevelopment of historic Penn Station in Baltimore. Montgomery, AL native Lindsay Edwards, an alumnus of Morehouse College and Emory University with 20 years’ experience in investing, will lead the day-to-day of project sourcing, underwriting, and investing in Alabama.
“Opportunity Alabama is a unique collaboration of many of Alabama’s most experienced community development experts, entrepreneurs, and investors, and has the potential to anchor a transformation of communities across the State,” says Ross Baird, CEO of Blueprint Local. “Partnerships like these—bringing together public sector partners, private capital through the Opportunity Zone program, and community leaders—strengthen our ability to create positive change in Alabama and communities across the country.”
In February 2020, OPAL and Blueprint were both selected in the inaugural Forbes OZ 20: The Top Opportunity Zone Catalysts list, comprising trailblazing community organizations and OZ funds.
About Opportunity Alabama
Opportunity Alabama (OPAL) is the economic development engine that drives capital into Alabama’s low-income communities in an equitable and sustainable manner. OPAL has three primary service lines: (1) capacity building for distressed communities (ranging from developing capital attraction strategies to marketing); (2) identifying and scaling potential investment opportunities (through technical assistance, model development, and impact assessment); and (3) providing access to capital. We have been cited as a national leader in OZ-based economic development by everyone from Forbes Magazine to the New York Times and have attracted over $1 million in national philanthropy and federal funding since our inception. You can find more in our Annual Report.
Blueprint Local is a national platform that seeks to help investors find opportunities in communities that can financial results and meaningful impact Blueprint seeks out high-quality opportunities from developers and entrepreneurs who want to grow and reinvigorate their neighborhoods, connecting them with investors looking for opportunities with measurable impact, focusing on undervalued assets and companies that have the potential to create opportunity and economic dynamism. Blueprint’s approach to partnerships are designed to focus on the whole neighborhood by identifying opportunities in specific, dedicated areas as opposed to one-off deals.
Alex Flachsbart, Founder and CEO
Lindsay Edwards, Investment Manager (AL)