The Challenge

will highlight projects to attract the attention of potential investors to support achieving actionable and impactful outcomes.

Brought to you by the Community Exchange, Minnesota Opportunity Collaborative and partners, the 2019 MN Opportunity Zone Challenge is a statewide competition to advance community-driven economic development projects in 128 Minnesota certified Opportunity Zones (81 communities in 62 counties), established pursuant to the bipartisan-supported Investing in Opportunity Act, part of the federal Tax Cut & Jobs Act of 2017. This Challenge is a way to advance your unique priorities and project ideas to meet valuable social, environmental and economic goals. It is intended to foster community engagement, identification, and prioritization of the most actionable and impactful projects.

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.

Submission Categories

Process & Logistics

MARCH 15 – Challenge Begins (submission forms will be accepted on line as of this date)

JUNE 30 – Submission Deadline

JULY 15 – Semi-Finalists Announced

JULY 24 – Finalists Event in Saint Paul; FINALISTS selected and awarded!

Click HERE to learn more!


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.)

Semi-Finalists will present in person at a FINALS Event in Saint Paul on July 24 prior to announcing WINNERS in each category. 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

Sunrise Banks New Market Tax Credits

Economic Innovation Group [EIG]



The 2019 Minnesota Opportunity Zone Challenge is made possible by these generous partners – all of which are committed to working with communities to become Investment Ready! The MN Opportunity Zone Challenge thanks Sunrise Banks, LISC Twin Cities, MN Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED), the MN Real Estate Journal, MN Opportunity Zone Advisors, LISC Duluth, Knight Foundation, The Northspan Group, Inc., MN Opportunity Collaborative and Benton Economic Partnership for their support.