Harnessing the power of Opportunity Zones to transform Alabama
Opportunity Alabama – or OPAL, as we like to call it – is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to driving capital into our distressed communities. Our primary focus is on capital formation in Opportunity Zones – 158 Census tracts distributed across all 67 counties in Alabama. We have a comprehensive strategy to turn Alabama into a national epicenter for Opportunity Zone-driven investment – and, in the process, lay the groundwork to ignite place-based economic development revolution across the state.
Alabama’s Opportunity Zones
Foundational to the program are the more than 8,700 Census tracts across the country that were designated as “Opportunity Zones” by the governors of each state. Over 95% of these Census tracts are statutorily-defined “low-income areas” – and many of those are places where the economic recovery never reached.
Here in Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey selected 158 Opportunity Zones, a profile of which is presented below. These zones are set for the next decade.
91 tracts of 158 have an anchor institution like a university, hospital, airport or military base
82 tracts of 158 have easy access to an interstate exit
95 tracts of 158 have a downtown area or neighborhood commercial district
Average unemployment rate of an Opportunity Zone
Average number of Opportunity Zone residents with a college degree
average population of an Opportunity Zone
average poverty rate of an Opportunity Zone
median family income of an Opportunity Zone
As the numbers show, Alabama’s Opportunity Zones share some common characteristics – they are poorer and less educated than the average Alabama community, and suffer from a lack of access to capital readily available to their more affluent neighbors. Despite this, many (if not most) of the state’s key assets – everything from anchor institutions like hospitals and universities to economic drivers like downtowns and industrial sites – are in or adjacent to our Opportunity Zones.
What We Do
Opportunity Alabama exists to unite the four groups necessary to facilitate a statewide Opportunity Zone ecosystem here in Alabama:
OPAL’s mission is to:
- Educate stakeholders on what Opportunity Zones are and how investments can be structured to work for projects and communities
- Source project and capital pipelines
- Promote communities (and the projects that could make the biggest difference for those communities) to potential investors
- Connect projects to capital, capital to projects, and key institutional supporters to both groups to ensure that deals get done
- Track performance of projects within communities to determine whether the program is having its intended effects
Get more information on OPAL,
including how to join the initiative.