The Erie Downtown Development Corporation, Erie Innovation District, and Flagship Opportunity Zone Development Company were invited to attend the first national Opportunity Zone Investor Summit, hosted by the Accelerator for America, Economic Innovation Group, the Governance Project and Drexel University Nowak Metro Finance Lab on Monday, March 18, 2019 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
Over 300 confirmed public officials, financial investors, multi-national philanthropic institutions and community leaders from across the country will gather for a day of meetings, breakout panels and discussions on how to attract capital to underserved communities.
The work in Erie to attract investment dollars into Erie’s downtown will be highlighted as a national model. EDDC CEO John Persinger will speak about the creation of the EDDC and the Erie Downtown Equity Fund on a panel about “Creating New Economic Development Institutions for Cities. “The investor summit raises Erie’s national profile, and directly connects deal makers with investment opportunities in the local community,” said John Persinger, CEO of the EDDC. Matt Wachter, Vice President of Finance & Development at the EDDC agrees, “Being highlighted for our work to incorporate cutting edge financial tools into the capital stack for our projects is confirmation that we are moving in the right direction.”
Outreach is not limited to real estate investors alone. As a City with an innovation district located in an Opportunity Zone, the work of Erie Innovation District (EID) will be highlighted at the event hosted in the heart of Silicon Valley. “The PA Flagship Opportunity Zone Development Company has enhanced our local business attraction efforts,” EID President & CEO Karl Sanchack said. “As a form of patient capital, these funds offer another potential path forward that is particularly appealing in stimulating both real estate and startup growth.”
In terms of such growth, EID has played a leading role in shaping a smart city / digital infrastructure within the heart of Erie, as well as in attracting outside startup companies to plant their roots in the community through a series of programs designed for the Erie opportunity zones. During this past summer, EID introduced an initial cohort of global companies to Erie through a joint accelerator program executed with Singularity University – a Silicon Valley technology think-tank. As a result of the programs and possibilities for future capital funding, the majority of the startups decided to retain a local business presence or move their headquarters based on the rising tide of activity in the city.
The recent creation of the Flagship Opportunity Zone Development Company “The Flagship” is expected to create a buzz among attendees at the event. The Flagship, a subsidiary of the Erie Regional Chamber, was created to be the central organizer in Erie’s efforts to cultivate a healthy portfolio of projects and attract investment dollars into Erie’s eight Opportunity Zone tracts. “The Investor Summit provides another opportunity to share Erie’s story with the country”, said Brett Wiler, Director of Capital Formation for The Flagship. “We’re looking forward to connecting with investors and social impact organizations and continuing to build our network. We feel we have a compelling story to tell – that Erie, Pennsylvania has the market momentum, institutional capacity, and diverse portfolio of projects that Opportunity Zone investors are looking for.”