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Community-Led, Data-Driven Opportunity Zones

Birmingham Case Study 

Many investors are already investing in Opportunity Zones like Birmingham, but a lack of good data on community needs and priorities—the significant biases that exist in OZ data—are skewing investments toward projects that may not actually benefit the community...and are not as profitable as those that would.


As we demonstrated in a prototype with the US Census and City of Birmingham, it is possible to develop much better data on traditionally underserved communities that creates market-incentives for capital to flow in ways that more directly benefit local residents and toward projects those residents prioritize.  

A Better Approach

  • Analyzed Census data to map community profiles and dynamics.​​ 

  • Surveyed 165,000 OZ residents to understand local priorities. 

  • Geofenced businesses in OZs to discover purchasing patterns.​

  • Used enterprise-level marketing tools to understand behavior.


  • Created a more dynamic, bi-directional “conversation” between city leaders and residents by sending emails to 165,000 Birmingham OZ residents

  • Improved insights into community priorities, which led to important shifts in messaging to the community—so that they saw that their input matters.

  • This also created new market insights into economic opportunities and priorities for development, which changed policy priorities (towards workforce/training and child care and a more nuanced approach and better understanding of community food needs).​

  • This case study was featured during the US Census 2019 Opportunity Project.

City skyline drawing
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