The idea behind the Opportunity Zone Act was to find a way to unleash the estimated $6.1 trillion of paper profits on American balance sheets into revitalizing depressed communities in our country. Forbes Magazine explains it this way:
The rules specify that to realize the maximum tax benefits, only capital gains can be invested, and they must remain invested in the zone for 10 years. Accredited investors, firms, REITs are all eligible to participate. The investments must be placed into Qualified (i.e. dedicated) Opportunity Zone Funds.
The Opportunity Zone Act was included in the Tax Act of 2017 and was approved and announced in January 2018. The US Treasury Department only came out with sufficient guidance for funds to operate at the end of October 2018.
Exactly what is it that makes this a uniquely compelling window of opportunity? Three things, never before combined like this:
The first two, of course, are not new ideas. But the Opportunity Zone Act and its unprecedented tax incentive create a symbiosis and scale of opportunity that has never before existed.
Because of our General Partner’s 30+ years of experience as a successful serial entrepreneur, as an investor and advisor to startups and high potential enterprise, and as a go-to expert in global economic development via entrepreneurship, we clearly see the magnitude of this historic opportunity. The CTVZ Fund will be on the leading edge in moving swiftly and effectively to address it.
We firmly believe this is a unique window of time to invest in a new frontier. There are many uncharted areas that we will discover, and we will capitalize on the best of them and then iterate on our success.
We will do our best to generate high returns, both in service to our investors and because as a natural course of that growth and success we will have a substantive positive impact on the communities where we operate and in the lives of the people we employ.
In this sense, the investors of the CT VZl Fund are poised to be among the first to truly realize the exceptional mutual benefit. Investing in high-potential startups and their entrepreneurs has tremendous upside potential. Unlike real estate investments, which expect stable but lower returns, the benchmark for success in a venture capital fund investment is 10X+.
Investors who self-select to join this charge will be those who are comfortable investing a portion of their capital gains portfolio into the higher risk / higher reward arena of venture capital, those who are eager to pioneer uncharted territory and are prepared to learn and pivot as we go, and those who value the additional returns of deploying capital in a way that may do good in our communities and potentially create historic precedent.
It doesn’t make sense for The CTVZ Fund to be one more real estate Opportunity Zone fund. The new tax laws and the current state of the US economy, along with our experience, background, skill set, location, risk tolerance and passion for true economic development via entrepreneurship all tell us that this is the time and the place to be pioneers in a brand new space. We are looking for investors who see and understand why we are doing this and want to be partners with us.
We think it is a good idea for investors to diversify and invest in several OZ/real estate funds, and then set aside a smaller portion of their gains to put into an Opportunity Zone Venture Capital Fund like the CTVZ Fund.
The reason there are few if any other Venture Capital Opportunity Zone funds at this time is because they are more difficult and complex to operate than investing in real estate. In addition, there are significantly fewer individuals who can operate a Venture Capital fund, and even fewer who would be willing to do so with a relatively small pool of capital and in an area that needs economic development. Further, the Opportunity Zone regulations from the Treasury Department are vague and additional guidance is still to come. These are barriers to others and an exciting opportunity for us. It means the risks are higher than a real estate Opportunity Zone fund, but so too is the potential for rewards and impact.