New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Summit 2024: 3 top takeaways

Read what our New Markets Tax Credit Summit participants and panelists had to say about expanding the NMTC ecosystem, collaboration, advocacy, and more.

Working off our theme of “Camp CohnReznick,” our goal for this year’s New Markets Tax Credit Summit was to embrace the spirit of adventure, community, and innovation found in a camp experience – and in the NMTC industry.

Our panelists and participants readily rose to the challenge, with three days of spirited discussions and generously shared insights. We are thankful to everyone who joined us in Miami, especially our speakers and sponsors. 

Read on for three top takeaways from the event – some of our favorite or most recurring themes. 

And whether as a returning or brand-new guest, we hope you’ll join us next year: Mark your calendar for May 12-14, 2025.

Pushing the NMTC doors wider open

As the NMTC industry continues to grow, how can we help make sure it grows in an inclusive, equitable manner? 

  • Provide education, invitations, and mentorship. 
    • Make sure people who could benefit from NMTC know about NMTC, and help them move their projects along. As speaker Anthony Norris put it, “NMTC is one of the best-kept secrets, so cast a wider net.” Help spread awareness by seeking out new audiences: Attend new conferences, look at different associations, or meet with mayors and school superintendents. 
    • Introduce up-and-coming professionals to the space, and offer mentorship and guidance along their path. Consider how your organization can become involved with the Open Access Fellowship, which “aims to increase Black and Latinx representation in community development finance, offering hands-on training for diverse professionals.”
    • As speaker William Carson said: “You never quite know when a brief introduction, sharing a news story, sharing an idea, connecting two people who might not have yet met, is going to connect and snowball into something else.”
  • Help identify and overcome obstacles. Some entities haven’t been able to participate in NMTC because they are not yet large or sophisticated enough. What resources or solutions can you offer to help them meet these challenges?
    • The NMTC closing process is intensive, especially for first-time borrowers. How can you help people work through all the small details of the many requirements for documentation, agreements, etc.? 
    • Consider where improvements may help participants not just with NMTC, but with their overall operations.
    • Meet with your stakeholders more often than once a year. Build a relationship with the people on the other side of your deal, so that everyone is comfortable talking through any concerns, on track to meet requirements, and aware that they’re “in it together.”
  • Seek the right voices. No matter where you fit in the NMTC ecosystem, make sure your deal team has people representative of the community your project impacts. Who can you add to the table? 
    • There are often questions about whether a project is the right project, and if it’s making the right impact – versus contributing to gentrification. Speaker Onika Lewis highlighted the importance of seeking out qualitative impacts from people on the ground: Visiting the project, talking to site management, getting a sense of the community ecosystem, meeting with residents or other stakeholders.

Collaboration and communication: The keys to piecing together today’s complex puzzle

Collaboration and communication are always critical in the NMTC industry, where a careful assembly of components is required to bring projects to fruition. But with increasing competition, and new initiatives like the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) bringing new overlapping responsibilities and opportunities for co-investment, this teamwork is more critical than ever – and not only with one another, but also with target communities.

  • Think broadly to develop an effective, multifaceted project.
    • This year’s NMTC Case Study video introduced the Justice Thurgood Marshall Amenity Center, an NMTC-powered project transforming Justice Marshall’s West Baltimore elementary school, PS103, into a new “center for education, force for equalization, and place where anyone can go to receive assistance.” Speaking Tuesday morning, project leader Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway told attendees that he didn’t want the center to be a museum, but instead a place for activities – and so they’re bringing in partners, from a university to teach ethics and expose law students to the community, to a program to expose community members to careers in aviation, airport management, and hospitality. “We’re going to add value to this community, but we’re also going to educate, we’re going to empower, and we’re going to inspire,” he said. 
    • The GGRF is poised to make billions of dollars available for clean energy investments, and like NMTC, it has a focus on using those funds to empower low-income communities. How can these programs be combined in transformative ways? For example, a lack of reliable electricity can be an obstacle for healthcare providers. Can you add a GGRF-funded solar installation to better power an FQHC?
    • Panelist Michael Neal encouraged thinking about the cross-sectionality of housing, and its connection with multiple sub-sectors such as trucking and window and door manufacturing. He also raised its connection with climate: Where are the places that climate change disasters are more likely to occur, and how does that impact where and what may get built, and the costs involved?
      • Food for thought: As the role of AI and machine learning in NMTC and community development continues to unfold, the climate challenge presents an early example of where the technology can help connect the dots, using data on weather patterns, population, and other key factors to find trends toward better identifying opportunities.
  • Reporting results. 
    • We’re long past the days of NMTC outcomes being just “jobs created.” Today’s TLR – or “Transaction Level Report,” a part of AMIS that requires CDEs to report data on each QALICB transaction – requires information on “quality and accessible jobs,” and “people served.” Projects are increasingly expected to provide tangible metrics on environmental outcomes – which will be even more of a mandate for those who layer in GGRF. All this means it will be critical to build relationships and maintain communication with those you will need to gather data from. 
  • Building a competitive application.
    • That said: As CohnReznick’s Jennifer Kirkley said, “The qualitative story is very important. It’s not just the numbers.” Small communities know what they need; a project creating 50 jobs might not automatically gain attention, but those jobs might be terribly important to a community.
    • Our Investor Roundtable showed high-impact, multiservice projects to be desirable and attractive to investors – but these also tend to have harder-to-track outcomes. Learn how to effectively present the benefits provided by workforce training, services for the homeless, and other less quantifiable initiatives so that they’re not a disadvantage.
    • Look for ways that others can help tell your project’s story. Do people in your community know about it – and not just your city council representative, but also anchor institutions, residents? Is there someone you know at a bank or CDE who could put out the word about your deal?
    • In addition to outputs, consider how new voices can bolster your promised inputs. How can you pull in others to help show a clearer plan to accomplishing your project? Ask your architect or construction manager: “Show me the path to having this done by 12/1 so we can close 1/1.”

Especially in this election year, raise your voice with NMTC advocacy

Like collaboration, advocacy is always important to keeping the NMTC ecosystem thriving. But it’s especially so now because this is an election year, with turnover possible and permanency on the line. Get the word out about your projects, make sure your congresspeople and other elected officials know what you’re doing.

  • Speaker Liz Carter, Advantage Capital’s senior director of legislative affairs, laid out a clear call to action, including: Give advocates your stories, your case studies, your but-for analyses. When you close a deal, make a special effort to have a case study done to add another tool to advocates’ toolbox. Budget to go into Washington and have meetings and tell your story. Write a letter to the congressperson representing the address of your project.
  • It will be important to target advocacy toward people at all points along the spectrum of NMTC support: Find new sponsors, ask current sponsors to raise their support, and for those who are not active supporters, show them the value of NMTC so they’re less likely to act against it. “We need to be all over the Hill talking about the benefits of the tax credit, supporting our champions, neutralizing our opposition, and I think we can do it,” Carter summarized.
  • In addition to highlighting outcomes, spend some time highlighting project compliance as well. Maintaining compliance is important to showing legislators that the program is well run and worth their time.

Want more NMTC insights?

We look forward to exploring these key themes in more detail over the months ahead. Subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss a word – and stay in the loop for our 2025 Summit.


Subject matter expertise

View All Specialists
Scott Szeliga headshot

Scott Szeliga

CPA, Office Managing Partner – Baltimore
richard davies

Richard Davies

CPA, Partner, Project Finance & Consulting
kayla gross

Kayla Gross

Principal, Project Finance & Consulting
Edelen Charles headshot

Charles Edelen

CPA, Partner

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Any advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues. Nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. This has been prepared for information purposes and general guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice specific to, among other things, your individual facts, circumstances and jurisdiction. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and CohnReznick LLP, its partners, employees and agents accept no liability, and disclaim all responsibility, for the consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.