The 2019 Minnesota Opportunity Zone Challenge

The Minnesota Opportunity Zone Challenge is a statewide competition to advance community-driven economic development projects in 128 Minnesota certified Opportunity Zones, established pursuant to the bipartisan-supported Investing in Opportunity Act, part of the federal Tax Cut & Jobs Act of 2017. 

The Challenge is a way to advance your unique priorities and project ideas to meet valuable social, environmental and economic goals.

The MN Opportunity Zone Challenge highlights projects to attract the attention of potential investors to support achieving actionable and impactful outcomes.

Community-driven project ideas will be scored by experienced finance, economic development, real estate and planning professionals in divisions based on geographical location & community-population size.



The 2019 Minnesota Opportunity Zone Challenge is made possible by the generous support of partners – all of which are committed to working with communities to become Investment Ready!

Submit Projects

All submissions must qualify as Eligible Real Estate projects under the Investing in Opportunity Act and applicable U.S. Treasury regulations and Internal Revenue Service guidance issued through January 30, 2019.  (New Construction or Substantial Rehabilitation – with guidelines for percentage of improvement vs. property value.)

Three sets of criteria will be emphasized: Social, Economic and Environmental impacts.  Additional detail is available via this DOWNLOADABLE PDF.  Additionally, a copy of the SUBMISSION FORM is available here for review and drafting in advance of completing the OFFICIAL Submission Form on-line via the MN Opportunity Collaborative (MNOppCo) website.


CHALLENGE FINALISTS receive cash awards for third-party pre-development support (i.e. Phase-One work, architectural aid, market studies, appraisals, etc.) AND a Free listing within a MNvest-authorized portal to raise up to $1M from accredited and nonaccredited investors. (These prize packages are valued at $20,000 each.)

Up to TWO Semi-Finalist winners in each category will receive customized assistance through a Development Advancement Process, including evaluating a potential capital raise via a certified MNvest portal. (These prize packages are valued at $10,000 each. MNvest-portal equity raises will not be appropriate in every circumstance, so we reserve the right not to award to every winner.)

Semi-Finalists will present in person at a FINALS Pecha-Kucha style Pitch Session at a statewide SUMMIT in Saint Paul on September 18 prior to announcing WINNERS.  Each WINNER will be photographed, interviewed and receive media coverage in their respective news outlets.  And Happy Gilmore-sized checks.


Community-driven project ideas will be scored by experienced finance, economic development, housing, community development, real estate and planning professionals from throughout Minnesota — and around the globe.

Oxford Impact Investing & Social Finance Programmes

Knight Foundation

Minnesota Opportunity Zone Advisors

DEED Office of Business Finance

Sunrise Banks New Market Tax Credits

Economic Innovation Group [EIG]

MEREDITH UDOIBOK DEED Office of Community Finance

The Alliance
Advancing Regional Equity


Logistics were adapted as the summer unfolded; we’ve made these adjustments based upon feedback and input and appreciate your interest in this process!

MARCH 15 – Challenge Began

JUNE 30 – Submission Deadline (Extended from June 15)

August 11 – Semi-Finalists Announced (Originally stated as July 15)

September 18 – Live presentations by Semi-Finalists at a statewide OZ event in Saint Paul; FINALISTS selected and awarded!