As the vice president of business community development at BCB Bank in New Brunswick, Luis O. De La Hoz knows a thing or two about how to use investment dollars to build a community. As the chairman of the board of directors of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, De La Hoz is well-versed in how to help the Hispanic community – the fastest-growing community of entrepreneurs in the state – continue to grow its numbers in the middle class.
That’s why he was so excited about last week’s Opportunity Zone Forum by Choose New Jersey. Why he was so disappointed that not enough people are seeing what he now sees – that the new Opportunity Zone program can be a catalyst for underserved communities across the state. “You know how many people I invited?” he asked, then answered: “I sent this to 40 or 50 people.”
“It’s a little bit complicated, but I think the best way to take advantage of this is to create a kind of hedge fund structure, where you pull in all the people’s money who are willing to invest into this kind of neighborhood.” “The first thing is that we have to clean up all of these vacant houses. If the neighborhood has a lot of vacant houses, people get scared. Once you’ve improved the safety, people will come in. And when people come in, business will come in. That’s, basically, the game.”