Riverside County, California, has the state’s third highest number of Opportunity Zones. These economically distressed communities, which were designated by the federal government, can potentially benefit from tax incentives that encourage investment and economic development. To create high-quality jobs in key economic sectors, such as manufacturing, tourism, and technology, the Economic Development Agency (EDA) in Riverside County formed a partnership with the Center for Social Innovation at the University of California, Riverside, to promote Opportunity Zones in the county. FUSE Executive Fellow Stacy Cumberbatch developed an Opportunity Zone strategy and laid the foundation for an ecosystem that will enable investments to serve the residents of these struggling communities.

To do this, Stacy cohosted several educational events, engaging more than 500 members of the community alongside key leaders in the Opportunity Zone ecosystem. She identified a project pipeline of investable deals across the county. She assisted city and private sector leaders in seeking more than $53.4 million in grant and investment funding to develop projects. Additionally, she helped craft Opportunity Zone marketing materials for the county, including a website, prospectus, and other collateral. By developing a multipronged sustainability plan focused on education, capacity building, policy recommendations, and capital attraction, Stacy has laid the groundwork for wider participation in Opportunity Zone development from civic leaders, capital providers, developers, and the local community.