Panel + Q&A (*Maximum 4 Panelists)

Creating Inclusive Investment to Spur Entrepreneurial Growth in the context of COVID-19 and Opportunity Zones

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2020 is the year that has shone a light on the fragility of our infrastructure, our cities, and our most vulnerable populations. Amidst a health pandemic, a state budget deficit, and a human rights crisis, our country is seeing first hand the needs we face to truly create resiliency and address institutional and structural bias in our financial and civic systems. When PPP was rolled out, at the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic, it was lauded by legislators as a way to get significant dollars into Main Street Businesses, to help save jobs and to do it fast. Many felt using local banks and financial institutions would make it easy to apply, and easier to distribute the funds. 

THE CATCH: Most small businesses don’t have a banking relationship, they barely know their teller. So those businesses that needed relief most took a back seat to existing customer relationships, and banks prioritized preferred customers. 

This is not a unique situation, and getting capital to flow efficiently to those areas in most needs is one of the biggest challenges the small business, and local startup community faces. 

The Opportunity Zone legislation was rolled out to shine a light on communities that needed to be rebuilt, and to provide significant tax breaks to those willing to invest in these areas. The challenge was that it was easy to invest in Real Estate and Infrastructure, but investment in community owned businesses did not receive attention or focus intended. The size of check and risk profile makes this kind of investment a mismatch for the investor seeking capital gains deferral. 

If we want to create strong entrepreneurial communities and change the fundraising capabilities of vulnerable communities, we need to identify ways to create NEW community structures and financial products that meet the needs of the community and are designed to support and empower entrepreneurs who would otherwise be blocked from accessing it. If we institutionalize those community values at the outset, then Opportunity Zones can add much more sustained value over time. Without it, they run the risk of variable impact. 

In our conversations with national leaders like Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, co-founder of the New Localism Bruce Katz, former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and many others we are exploring new ways to bridge the gap for creating wealth and resiliency in our communities. In the conversation we envision for SOCAP we will explore opportunities to build  ground up solutions that will address the challenges in public and private sectors that prohibit equitable growth for small businesses.

Confirmed Panelists

Anne Driscoll, CEO Launch Pad ( Moderator) –

Ann Rogan, Executive Advisor for Economic Innovation, Office of Mayor Tubbs, City of Stockton –

Stephanie Copeland – Partner, Four Points Funding –


Unconfirmed Panelists

Cedric Muhammed, Entertainer Entrepreneur  (

Neill Wright, President, Bronze Valley (


Once selected we can gather from our past Launch Pad TV speakers to join the conversation as an opener/fireside before the panel, these could include Marc Morial, Mitch Landrieu, Bruce Katz… 


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