The Forbes OZ 20: Top Opportunity Zone Catalysts, a partnership between the Sorenson Impact Center and Forbes, recently announced a new list recognizing community organizations and OZ Funds that are committed to achieving equitable economic growth in underserved and overlooked communities throughout the country. We are pleased to announce that the Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund has been selected as one of 20 communities and opportunity zone funds.
Woodforest National Bank®("Woodforest") created the Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund ("The Fund") with CEI-Boulos Capital Management, LLC, a joint venture of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a leading national Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with a strong track record of meeting community needs in rural areas and small gateway cities, and The Boulos Company, an integrated commercial real estate firm with broad experience in capital markets and real estate development. The $20 million private real estate investment fund is targeting projects in the recently designated Opportunity Zones across Woodforest's 17-state footprint, with the goal of promoting economic opportunity benefitting people with low and moderate incomes in areas designated as Qualified Opportunity Zones. CEI-Boulos Capital Management is working closely with Woodforest to select and review potential investments.
The Fund has adopted the Opportunity Zone Impact Reporting Framework developed through a partnership between the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, the Beeck Center at Georgetown University and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The framework was created to maintain focus on Opportunity Zone investments producing positive economic and social impacts, and established standards for community engagement, transparency of investments, and other social impact criteria. The Fund has also appointed a Social Impact Advisory Board made up of some of the country's leading experts on investing in low-income communities. The advisory board will provide input related to the social and environmental impacts of the Fund's proposed investments.
Jim Sorenson, Founder of the Sorenson Impact Center, said, "We received 113 applications to the Forbes OZ 20, with 62 Funds and 51 communities testing their OZ strategies through a rigorous selection process.
He continued, "The quality and standard of applications was excellent with communities and OZ funds showing a clear commitment to social impact. We are excited to share learnings from the Forbes OZ 20 to help other community organizations and OZ funds deliver real and meaningful change in the communities they support."
"We are honored to learn that the Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund was named on the Forbes OZ 20 list. The goal of The Fund is to revitalize communities across Woodforest's 17-state footprint and we are working closely with the Fund's Social Impact Advisory Board to ensure that these investments also benefit low- and moderate-income individuals in these communities," said Jay Dreibelbis, President and CEO, Woodforest National Bank®.
"We're thrilled to be working with Woodforest National Bank on this innovative fund investing in high-impact real estate projects across the bank's service territory," said Sam Spencer, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of CEI-Boulos Capital Management. "Thank you to the Sorenson Impact Center and Forbes for this recognition and for highlighting other examples of how the new Opportunity Zone incentive is being used to produce positive outcomes for underinvested communities."
More than 8,700 opportunity zones were designated as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These zones were selected in collaboration with State and Federal leaders to drive investment into distressed communities. The incentive offers deferments and savings on capital gains when investors deploy funds in opportunity zone projects. Investments in opportunity zones are empowering teachers to live in the communities they serve, extending grid infrastructure and solar array construction in rural America, and expanding economic opportunity.
For questions related to the Forbes OZ 20 contact:
Max Seawright, Director of Communications, Sorenson Impact Center (firstname.lastname@example.org / +1 617-460-5768)
For questions related to CEI-Boulos Capital Management, please contact Elizabeth Rogers, email@example.com
The Forbes OZ 20 officially launched in the spring of 2019, with applications closing at the end of August 2019. The purpose of this new list is to showcase how large and small investors, as well as rural and urban communities, are pioneering dynamic, equity-minded approaches to the revitalization of distressed communities. By elevating the best examples of OZ work from around the country we hope to showcase the promise and possibilities of the entire OZ landscape.
Celebrating 39 years of community banking service, Woodforest National Bank has successfully stood among the strongest community banks in the nation, proudly offering outstanding customer service since 1980. Woodforest currently operates over 700 branches in 17 states across the United States. For more information about Woodforest National Bank, please visit www.woodforest.com
Since 1977, CEI has focused on growing good jobs, supporting environmentally sustainable enterprises and achieving shared prosperity. The firm is a nationally respected Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Community Development Corporation (CDC), integrating financing, business and industry expertise, and policy advocacy. CEI's for-profit subsidiary, CEI Capital Management (CCML) is one of country's largest and most experienced investors in low-income areas across the country using New Markets Tax Credits. CCML currently manages a $500 million portfolio and has invested over $1 billion in markets from Maine to Hawaii since its inception.
Founded in 1975, The Boulos Company is Northern New England's largest commercial real estate firm, serving owners, investors and tenants through brokerage, property management and investment advisory services. Boulos also has an extensive national Opportunity Zone deal-flow network through the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) and Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute (CCIM Institute).