Inclusive growth is the top priority of the Regions Foundation because strengthening all communities makes life better for our stakeholders. Supporting economic and community development projects is a strategic focus area for Regions. We’ve seen first-hand the difference that investments in underserved communities and businesses can make and we are partnering with leaders in this area to maximize the impact of these investments.
One recent example is our work with Opportunity Alabama, a 501(c)(3) organization created to help close the access to capital gap for Alabama’s low-income places through Alabama Opportunity Zone developments. These 158 Census tracts were designated by Governor Kay Ivey in 2018 (and other governors across the U.S.) as part of a national tax incentive program created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to spur investment in targeted low-income places.
This visionary program provides access, capital and incentives for small and minority-owned businesses that are the foundation of our state.
Leroy Abrahams, President of the Regions Foundation and head of Community Affairs for Regions Bank
Since 2019 the Regions Foundation has supported Opportunity Alabama through a grant and additional collaboration. And, in 2021 the Regions Foundation joined large institutional investors, family offices, foundations and individuals as an early investor in the The OPAL Fund, a real estate-oriented investment vehicle designed to positively impact underserved communities in Alabama while generating returns for investors.
“We are excited to be among the first investors in The OPAL Fund, created to accelerate more inclusive economic development across Alabama,” said Leroy Abrahams, President of the Regions Foundation and head of Community Affairs for Regions Bank. “This visionary program provides access, capital and incentives for small and minority-owned businesses that are the foundation of our state, building capacity, creating jobs and generating sustainable growth. We look forward to seeing the results of this investment and the positive impact on our communities for years to come.”
The OPAL Fund exists to provide investors – particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds – with a pipeline of commercial real estate deals that Opportunity Alabama has curated.
“We see The OPAL Fund as our opportunity to get more local capital off the sidelines and into projects in our own back yard,” said Alex Flachsbart, founder and CEO of Opportunity Alabama, and one of the principals behind The OPAL Fund. “We appreciate organizations like the Regions Foundation that believe in our work and the power that these investments have to improve communities.”
The OPAL Fund team has a dual investment mandate: find real estate deals in Alabama’s Opportunity Zones that are capable of producing market rate risk-adjusted returns, while also meeting an expressed community need, such as workforce housing and other sustainable real estate development. Further, The OPAL Fund is a vehicle for facilitating access and wealth creation for Black and brown Alabamians by building a network of minority and woman-owned business enterprises to engage in predevelopment, during construction, and throughout the anticipated 10-year investment period. In addition, The OPAL Fund is actively recruiting Black and brown investors with the goals of building wealth and building Alabama’s first minority investor-driven real estate investment network.
For more details, check out this article about The Opal Fund, Opportunity Alabama, and what’s next.