Client: The City of Colorado Springs Economic Development Division
Task: The student team was tasked with anticipating and informing the adaptation of City Economic Development strategies regarding the Federal Opportunity Zone (OZ) tax incentive program to support COVID-19 economic recovery, serve community needs, and build trust in local economic resilience and City-provided support.
“During a critical moment for businesses trying to navigate COVID-19 in fall 2020, the Quad student team helped the City of Colorado Springs Economic Development team and our partners collect real-time feedback on business needs. This information informed both our short term responses to better support our business community and provided us valuable insight on ways to leverage our Opportunity Zones and other economic development tools for longer-term impact and recovery from the pandemic.”–Chelsea Gaylord
Formerly, Senior Economic Development Specialist, City of Colorado Springs
The City of Colorado Springs Economic Development Division tasked the student team with anticipating and informing the adaptation of City Economic Development strategies regarding the Federal Opportunity Zone (OZ) tax incentive program to support COVID-19 economic recovery, serve community needs, and build trust in local economic resilience and City-provided support. To do so, research was divided into two phases: the first focusing on nation-wide OZ research, and the second on Colorado Springs (COS) OZ research and other COVID-19 economic recovery strategies.
Nationwide research: the students interviewed multiple OZ fund founders and managers, which were contacted from 16 states. Their research was focused on top-performing operating business OZ funds to understand best practices and organizational structures.
Local Research: Narrowing their search to Colorado Springs, the students engaged with nearly 50 local businesses and investors through interviews so that they could better understand the needs of the community, their available support systems, and gaps and alignment between the two.
After conducting their research, the students compiled a list of five key recommendations and in-depth analysis, where four were independent from the OZ incentive and suitable for both immediate recovery and long-term strategy while the last recommendation identifies OZ program strategy to promote sustainable, long-term growth, to share with their client. Their five key recommendations revolved around the ideas to prioritize opportunity zones as a tool for new business growth, develop a single hub for key information, promote support and connection in addition to funding, incorporate consideration of externalities into internal strategy and external communications and to prioritize proactive policy and infrastructure. In addition to their recommendations, Quad students gave a complete background of their project and analysis of the problems at hand. The students hope that their research can help with the maximization of the OZ impact for long-term growth within Colorado Springs businesses.