JTC Americas, Formerly NES Financial is kicked off its first Opportunity Zones Breakfast Series in Baltimore on Thursday, March 12th with a who’s who of local industry leaders, including Ira Weinstein, Managing Principal at CohnReznick; David Shapiro, Partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr; and Frank Dickson, Director of Strategic Business Initiatives at the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development!

We spoke with the speakers prior to the event about an important Opportunity Zones question: What is the #1 best practice people should know when setting up an OZF?

Below are their responses, and if you’d like to see photos from our “Best Practices for Opportunity Zones Fund Success” event, please click here.

“It’s important to assemble the right team with extensive and technological experience within the Opportunity Zones initiative. JTC Americas is a pioneer within the OZ space and has over 70 signed OZ funds. Our clients trust JTC Americas’s purpose-built Opportunity Zone Fund Administration solution, which ensures fund success by minimizing compliance and operational risk, while increasing transparency and investor confidence.” -Jeff Drinkwater, Regional VP, JTC Americas, who will also be moderating this event and discussing the steps for Opportunity Zones Fund success.

“Get good counsel! Make sure your counsel (legal/tax) have reviewed and approved of your investment policies and procedures so that (1) your fund and fund investments will comply with the OZ legislation/ guidance and (2) that the investors in your fund are assured to obtain the federal OZ incentives that they are expecting to receive by investing in the OZF.” -Frank Dickson, Director, Strategic Business Initiatives, Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development

“The best practice people should know when setting up an OZF is to have effective time management since there are so many critical timing aspects of this process. But I think the most critical area would be effective community impact consideration and a unique way of connecting with the local stakeholders and ingratiating yourself. The best investment will only succeed with local impact and support, and whether it is your money, or you are a third-party manager, long-term success for everyone depends upon clarity in how everyone, including local residents will see benefit.” -Ira Weinstein, Real Estate, Cannabis Industry Group Leader, CohnReznick

“Make sure that you are fully prepared with the project before you go to market. Work with local government to get any necessary approvals – and ideally get their enthusiastic backing – before you raise money. Once money comes in you have a limited time to spend it and remain compliant with the Opportunity Zone rules, so investors will turn to projects that have both a solid investment thesis and a clear path to execution.” -David G. Shapiro, Partner, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Ross Baird, Founder of Blueprint Local, was scheduled to attend the event and unfortunately was not able to join us closer in. However, he was able to share his No. 1 best practice for setting up an OZ fund: “Understand the problem you are trying to solve first, then develop your investment thesis. The best Opportunity Zone funds will invest in city, regional, and community priorities, and invest in great leaders, entrepreneurs, and developers who are doing the hard work of making those goals a reality, building the wealth of the community.”

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