Recently, the Cherokee County Industrial Development Authority – along with the Chamber of Commerce – presented an Opportunity Zone Forum for local elected officials, community leaders, developers, entrepreneurs, banks, realtors, financial advisors, and other interested parties.
The purpose of that two-hour forum was to better educate stakeholders on exactly what an Opportunity Zone is and to learn how to position Cherokee County to achieve the maximum returns in development and investment.
Opportunity Alabama is a 501 (c)(3) organization which is dedicated to driving capital into Alabama’s distressed communities.
It’s a new program established nationally by Congress in the “Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017”.
Opportunity Zones provide investors with federal tax incentives, and each community with private-sector financing to improve communities through targeted economic development.
The meeting drew a capacity crowd including, both of Centre, Representative Ginny Shaver and Senator Andrew Jones, who spoke with us following the gathering:
FULL PRESENTATION FOR OPPORTUNITY ZONES
LINK TO OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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
Alex Flachsbart is the Founder and CEO of Opportunity Alabama, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to creating an impact-based Opportunity Zones ecosystem to provide access to capital to Alabama’s low-income communities. Prior to founding OPAL, Alex was a corporate attorney for several years with Balch & Bingham LLP in Birmingham, Alabama, specializing in tax credit and economic development-related work. During his tenure at Balch, Alex’s clients ranged from real estate developers and major utilities to local governments and nonprofit hospital systems. His focus was on creating unique financing solutions (like revolving loan funds and new uses for state or local incentives), building capital stacks (with state and federal tax credit programs like Historic and New Markets Tax Credits), and writing grants for high-impact projects.
Alex was a member of Teach for America’s charter corps in Alabama, where he taught high school mathematics in one of the most impoverished rural counties in America. A native of Northern California (but a naturalized Alabamian), Alex received undergraduate and masters degrees in economics from The University of Alabama, where he was a two-time member of the USA Today Collegiate All-Academic Team and Premier Award winner. He received his J.D. from Washington and Lee University School of Law, where he was a Maria Leonard Scholar and was elected to the Order of the Coif. Alex sits on the Board of Directors of Main Street Alabama and is a member of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama’s Roundtable.
Reid Knight is the Director of Operations at Opportunity Alabama. Prior to joining OPAL, Reid managed the implementation of commercial real estate investment software for CRE capital firms across the country. Reid was responsible for gathering, quality checking, and implementing all capital investments and waterfall calculations for current and historical projects, and launching new investment offerings with operating agreements, private placement memorandums, and all other associated documents. Reid attained his bachelor’s degree from Auburn University, and master’s degree from East Carolina University. He takes pride in helping transform Alabama through connecting investment capital to the state’s Opportunity Zones.