RFP – RISE Ohio Legal and Technical Assistance for Regional Opportunity Zone Planning

May 14, 2021 | Jobs

Summary and Background
The RISE Ohio (Resilience Initiative for Southeastern and Eastern Ohio) is a U.S. EDA Assistance to Coal Communities program initiative led by Ohio University’s Voinovich School, BHRC, and OMEGA focused on economic diversification; Opportunity Zone planning, development, and investment; and assistance to communities impacted by coal fired power plant closures.

Buckeye Hills Regional Council (BHRC) is a council of governments established in 1968 and serves the counties of Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry and Washington in rural Appalachian Ohio. Buckeye Hills administers funding from multiple State and Federal sources in the areas of community and economic development, transportation planning and aging services in order to address the needs of member communities.

The Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA) is a council of governments also established in 1968 and serves the counties of Belmont, Coshocton, Columbiana, Carroll, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Muskingum, and Tuscarawas in eastern Appalachian Ohio. OMEGA provides opportunities in economic and community development through networking, education, planning, research, and allocation of resources and is a Regional Transportation Planning Organization for eight of the ten counties. OMEGA’s mission is to provide a pathway to enhance community and economic growth in the region.

Project Description
Given the proliferation of Opportunity Zones, the most competitive Opportunity Zones across the nation generally offer additional investment incentives (e.g. TIF, SID, JEDD or other credits) and wrap-around services such as workforce development training, educational access, small business development services, etc. Additionally, the optimal Opportunity Zones in our regions will be near the communities most heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the decline in the coal industry.

This RFP is requesting proposals from qualified and interested parties to provide technical assistance and training for our local communities in the 18-county region and designated members of BHRC and OMEGA staff. Project oversight and advisement to the BHRC and OMEGA leadership may also be necessary.

Scope of Work
The successful consultant will be required to:

  • Serve as lead technical/planning/legal consultant to assist BHRC, OMEGA and impacted communities in an 18-county region with understanding, integrating and implementing Opportunity Zone benefits with additional federal, state and local incentives and economic development wrap around services to attract external investment.
  • Serve as advisor to BHRC and OMEGA staff as they undertake the creation of the regional Opportunity Zone Prospectus in their 8- and 10-county regions.Identify and coordinate with additional legal and technical assistance consulting partners as necessary and in accordance with federal guidelines to carry out project activities, including but not limited to:
            – Developing complimenting incentive components as well as local policy recommendations for communities that may catalyze investment
            – Identifying additional designations to make the Opportunity Zones competitive (e.g. TIF, SIDS, JEDs, foreign trade zones, enterprise zones, or other appropriate designation)
            – Making appropriate recommendations regarding zoning modifications to support development
            – Making appropriate recommendations regarding local legislation and policies to encourage investment
            – Providing support for partner communities seeking New Market Tax Credits, housing credits, and other financial incentives
            – Identifying federal grant programs and resources that are applicable to development within the identified areas. Please note that the preparation of grant applications is excluded from this RFP.
  • Assist BHRC and OMEGA staff to identify and procure specialized technical assistance necessary to facilitate development in opportunity zones. This technical assistance is broadly defined to best meet the market opportunities to diversity these regional economies, facilitate recovery from the pandemic, develop resiliency and transition them from coal dependence amidst the regional decline in coal and final policies.
  • Ensure strategies or policies created as a result of the specialized technical assistance are available to all opportunity zone communities through the provision of a library of information available for all communities in the BHRC and OMEGA regions.
  • Advise BHRC and OMEGA staff in their efforts to coordinate opportunity zone investments and incentives with local planning efforts and objectives.
  • Conduct regular status meetings with BHRC and OMEGA
  • Facilitate meetings with community leaders, BHRC, and OMEGA as needed for program implementation
  • Coordinate working efforts among project partners, including Ohio University

Period of Performance:
The period of performance for the U.S. EDA Assistance to Coal Communities funded RISES project is January 7, 2021 – January 7, 2024. The firm selected would be expected to serve as an advisor for the project team for the period of September 1, 2021 through December 31, 2023.

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