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Opportunity Zone Challenge Program

Opportunity Zone Grant Application - Cover Sheet & Application Instructions

Attachment A - Application Information Form

Attachment B - Fee Plan Budget Disbursement Schedule

Opportunity Zone Challenge - Process Flow and Necessary Documentation


ShareFile Upload Instructions

Clarification on Documentation needed for Application Mayor/ Executive Director Letter

    Overview


    Designed as new community investment tool to be delivered through Federal tax policy, Opportunity Zones were created to encourage long-term investments in distressed urban and rural communities nationwide. The Opportunity Zones provide an incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into dedicated Opportunity Funds.  Fund capital must be invested in Opportunity Zone businesses or real estate projects for a fixed time period in order to access the full tax benefit. Following a detailed and community-focused selection process, Governor Murphy nominated 169 Census tracts in 75 communities across all 21 New Jersey counties - which were approved by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2018.

    Opportunity Zone designations have, by their design, a great potential to focus the flow of capital and economic investment into communities that have historically faced economic challenges. This long-term scarcity of investment, combined with the pressing needs and strained capacities of local governments, has often led to diminished local abilities to develop and capitalize beneficial projects. With the advent of Opportunity Zones and the potential for historically high flows of previously unavailable capital, this lack of capacity to harness investment could lead many communities to lose out on real estate and business equity investments with the potential to create catalytic change.  

    The goal of this grant program is to encourage communities to build economic development capacity by developing community-specific plans that will frame their pursuit of Opportunity Zones-based investments.
     

    What is the Opportunity Zone Challenge Program?


    The Opportunity Zone Challenge program intends to award a total of up to $500,000, structured as individual grants of up to $100,000 each, to select Municipal or County governments or a Municipal Partnership whose applications achieve a requisite score or greater. Applicants must demonstrate through their applications how their proposed strategic plans will catalyze the building of investment capacity in their Opportunity Zone(s) - and help communities to realize their goals for Opportunity Zone investments.  

    The grant is open to the 75 New Jersey municipalities and 21 counties where at least one Opportunity Zone census tract, either in whole or in part, is located within the geographic boundaries.

    Applicants must designate strategic partners with whom they will be conducting their Opportunity Zone strategic planning efforts. A municipality, county, or municipal partnership is required to enter into a formalized partnership agreement with a minimum of one (1) strategic partner.  The purpose of these agreements is to leverage external expertise to best achieve the goals of the Opportunity Zone Challenge. Strategic partners must have executed the partnership agreement before the municipality, county, or municipal partnership submits its grant application.

    Grant recipients will be required to design and submit a detailed, Opportunity Zones-focused strategic plan - which will be used to guide growth of economic development-focused technical capacities in marketing, business development, financial analysis, municipal planning and/or regulatory reform. The plan proposal must clearly demonstrate a viable path to bringing ideas to implementation and show a collaborative stakeholder engagement process and strategy. The local government entity will then be responsible for implementing the plan - based upon their unique needs and targeted to where the community sees the potential for long-term, socially responsible Opportunity Zone investment.

    Strategic Plan proposals may focus on any number of elements, including:
     
    • Financial or Marketing Plan/Prospectus
    • Real Estate Development Plan
    • Zoning, Code and Regulatory Reform Plan
    • Planning efforts that would address the underlying planning and capacity-building goals of the Opportunity Zones Challenge

    Proposals will be accepted up and until September 16, 2019 at 4:30 pm EDT.  Proposals will then be reviewed for completeness and scored based on the criteria set for in the project specifications attached below.  The expected date of the grant award will be October 2019.  
     

    Who can apply?

    • Applicants must meet one of the following definitions:
      • New Jersey municipal government (a proposal submitted by a single municipality) 
      • New Jersey county government (a proposal submitted by a single county)
      • Municipal partnership (two to five New Jersey municipalities partnering on a proposal) 
    • Applicant must have least one Opportunity Zone census tract, either in whole or in part, located within the geographic boundaries of the New Jersey municipality or county. 
     
    • For a municipal partnership application, each participating municipality must contain, within their geographic boundaries, either wholly or partially at least one (1) census tract designated as an Opportunity Zone.
     
    • A municipality, county, or municipal partnership applicant is required to have a minimum of one (1) strategic partner in order to leverage external expertise to best achieve the goals of the Opportunity Zone Challenge.
     
    • A municipality or a county may only submit one application each in a lead role, but an applicant municipality may also be included in a municipal partnership or as a strategic partner in additional applications where they play a non-lead role. A strategic partner may participate in more than one application. A proposal on behalf of a county does not preclude a municipality within that county from submitting their own proposal.
     
    • Strategic partners may be involved in multiple applications but must operate in accord with compliance process of the lead municipality or county
     
    • Lead municipality or county will be responsible for collecting compliance documentation from the strategic partner in accordance with any applicable procurement processes
     

    How will applications be evaluated?


    Applications for the Opportunity Zone Challenge Program will be accepted up to 4:30 pm on September 16, 2019
     
    Applications will be evaluated and ranked with the five highest scoring applications presented to the Board for review and approval.    
     
    Specific scoring criteria is outlined in the Opportunity Zone Challenge Grant Application - Cover Sheet & Application Instructions, but general guidelines that will be used to assess applications are as follows:
      
    1. Evidence of the proposal to demonstrate the plan’s ability to achieve one or more capacity building goals of the Opportunity Zone Challenge, as outlined in the Scope of Work.
    2. Strength of programming or policy design within the Proposal, regarding the reputation, capacity, and proposed level of commitment from the partnering entity(ies); benefits and practical advantages of the partnership(s).
    3. Demonstrated ability within plan to increase municipal, regional and county governments knowledge and capacity to build investment growth.
    4. Proposal’s emphasis on meeting Opportunity Zone community investment goals
    5. Presence and strength of business equity investment strategy within the proposal.
    6. Presence and strength of a defined collaborative stakeholder engagement process and strategy.
    7. 2017 Municipal Revitalization Index Rank.  


    How to Apply:


    Opportunity Zone Challenge Grant Application - Cover Sheet & Application Instructions
    Attachment A - Application Information Form
    Attachment B - Fee Plan Budget Disbursement Schedule
    Opportunity Zone - Process Flow and Necessary Documentation
    ShareFile Upload Instructions
    Clarification on Documentation needed for Application Mayor/ Executive Director Letter‚Äč
      

    Application Deadline:


    Applications for the Opportunity Zone Challenge Program will be accepted up to 4:30pm on September 16, 2019

    Applications will be evaluated and ranked with the five highest scoring applications presented to the Board for review and approval.
      

    Questions & Answers:


    The Authority will electronically accept written questions and inquiries from all potential Applicant(s) via the web at njozchallenge@njeda.com. Phone calls/faxes shall not be accepted.

    The subject line of the e-mail should state:

    “Questions – Opportunity Zone Challenge Program”

    All Questions received, and Answers given in response to this Application will be answered in the form of a Frequently Asked Questions document to be posted and continually updated on this webpage up until Friday, September 16, 2019 at 12:00 pm.

    The Authority will also post any addenda on this webpage. It is the responsibility of any potential applicant to review this webpage on a frequent basis to become aware of any answers and addenda.