OAKLAND, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Economic Equity Network (“EEN”) launched yesterday at a private Roundtable event in East Oakland’s Allen Temple Baptist Church. The executive-level convening–a cross-sectoral gathering of Bay Area minority and women-owned business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors of color, nontraditional impact investors, philanthropy, and other public and private stakeholders–featured a series of panels that focused on driving reinvestment into the San Francisco Bay Area's low-income communities and minority-owned businesses; using strategic, impact-focused, and community-directed Opportunity Zone (“OZ”) capital. The event was the first of a series of roundtables the EEN will host in select major cities across the United States, leading up to a national summit. The EEN was created to support the deployment of OZ capital in ways that generate community wealth; to redress the racial wealth gap and stabilize communities of color with improved economic outcomes for future generations.
Entrepreneurs scaling businesses and real estate developments in Opportunity Zones located throughout the Bay Area engaged in a Fast Pitch fundraising session, with goals of raising $250,000 to $1,000,000 of seed venture capital, primarily from Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds and impact investors attending the event. When pitching in front of investors from Bronze Investments, Hall Capital Partners, KPMG, and other corporate investors and financial institutions in the room, Carolyn Jones, of the Black Cultural Zone, said, “We believe in a holistic community approach that will propel communities from East Oakland to San Leandro...The Black Cultural Zone will have a transformative impact. Our first project is a real estate initiative…We are currently seeking $5M to achieve the 1st phase of pre-development costs.” Similarly, Rashad Armstead of Crave BBQ and winner of the Food Network show, CHOPPED said, “…we are currently looking for an investment to build a food hall in West Oakland, with a venue space and access to a stage. Even if I walk away and nothing happens today, you will see that food hall.” Martin White of the Allen Temple Development Corporation, the development arm of the Allen Temple Baptist Church, eager to take advantage of the many unique opportunities OZ Capital could mean for their fellowship and East Oakland community at large, said, “…we have developed over 200 units of housing over the years, comprised of primarily senior housing and disabled housing. Now, we’re looking to develop ownership opportunities for our residents – starting with condominiums.”
Many local and State elected leaders, from CA Assemblymember, Rob Bonta; Chair of the CA State Board of Equalization, Malia Cohen; Oakland City Councilmember, Loren Taylor, and more, attended the event, to show their support for the potential of OZ Capital to be directed to communities of color for wealth-building.
Kofi Bonner, Co-COO of FivePoint an EEN Co-Sponsor, said, “this has been a thoughtful and thought-provoking day…We are in an opportunity zone right now at Allen Temple Baptist Church, and it is full of promise. The good news is, there are billions of dollars being raised for these communities, but we have to build a bridge between those assets the community needs and those investments the market historically underwrites.” Bruce Katz, Drexel Nowak Metro Finance Lab and EEN Co-Sponsor, addressed the group and said, “We have a moment today to deploy Opportunity Zone capital in a way that can build whole community wealth and ownership, rather than extract it, and it’s up to us to re-imagine a new kind of economic development."
The EEN is committed to broadening the Network, as it looks to host its next event in Philadelphia, by convening leaders from diverse sectors and perspectives to have a dialogue, collaborate and invest OZ capital in communities with a need for jobs, business growth, and sustainable real estate and affordable housing development. “Ultimately, our goal is to equip this Network with new tools for community reinvestment, to change the paradigm from one of subsidy to a new interdisciplinary public-private partnership that replicates success from neighborhood to neighborhood,” said Roberta Achtenberg, former US Civil Rights Commission and EEN Co-Sponsor.
About the Economic Equity Network
The Economic Equity Network is a new initiative launched to help transform communities of color using Opportunity Zone capital. We were sponsored by Kofi Bonner (FivePoint), Bruce Katz (Drexel Nowak Metro Finance Lab), and Roberta Achtenberg (former US Civil Rights Commission), alongside philanthropic partners Fred Blackwell (San Francisco Foundation), James Head (EastBay Community Foundation), and David Plouffe (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative), to undertake a new approach to the regeneration of disinvested communities of color. https://www.ozequitynetwork.org/