Positioning industry experts in controversial federal program
Urban Catalyst is a real estate equity fund focused on ground-up development projects in a low-income area of downtown San Jose, Calif. Founded by local developers in 2019, Urban Catalyst leveraged the then-new federal Opportunity Zone (OZ) program, which provides tax incentives to private investors and developers for revitalizing depressed communities.
Cogenta helped launch Urban Catalyst's inaugural fund to the national press in July 2019 at a challenging time when media sentiment toward OZs was neutral at best because of rising partisan concerns about gentrification and displacement of community residents, as well as ties to conservative policymakers. Cogenta positioned Urban Catalyst founder Erik Hayden as a national OZ expert and the fund as a uniquely local-first investment vehicle. By focusing PR efforts on the fund’s “do good” intentions – energizing a stagnant neighborhood with jobs, housing, retail and infrastructure improvements – Urban Catalyst won one of 10 spots reserved for funds across the nation on the Forbes OZ list in December 2019. Hayden was recognized as one of top 25 OZ influencers by Opportunity Zone Magazine in June 2020.
Length of partnership: 2 years
“Trump Tax Perk Fuels San Jose Development as Google Moves In,” Bloomberg
“Meet The Forbes OZ 20: The Top Players Investing for Lasting Impact,” Forbes
“Community-First Opportunity Zones: How Everyone Can Win,” Forbes Council
"Urban Catalyst Drives Economic Development in Downtown San Jose Opportunity Zone Despite Pandemic-Related Slowdown," Insider