OZ MAGAZINE 2022 Top 25 Influencers issue 2.2 - Page 123
OPPORTUNITY ZONE EXPO IN DENVER CROWNS AMERICA ’ S TOP PROJECT WINNER
The finalists took turns pitching their projects in the “ Cougar Cage ” as Governor Polis affectionally called it - to be poked , prodded and battle-tested by an esteemed panel of wellrespected OZ judges that included Shay Hawkins , DJ Van Keuren , Chris Loeffler , Eric Kaplan and Nicole Frazier . All entrants are worthy of praise , but only two could emerge from the carnage with the respective titles of America ’ s Top Project and America ’ s Most Impactful Project .
As it turns out , the field was so full of quality that the judges selected three winners . For America ’ s Most Impactful Project – an honor placing emphasis on the social good elements of an OZ project over its bottom line and ROI – the judges declared a tie between contestants Eagle OZ ( Chicago , IL ) and Sandstone Partners ( Hudson , NY ). The former pitched a massive set of mixed-use land renovation and underserved communities engagement projects across Chicago ’ s historic Bronzeville district ; the latter pitched plans to build The McKinstry , a modern retro-chic bed-and-breakfast and event venue to serve as an economic engine and job creator for several quiet towns nestled amongst the natural beauty of rural upstate New York .
America ’ s Top Project award went to Inyoag OZ ( Darwin , CA ), whose CEO Jack Stone pitched the revival of a dormant yet potentially lucrative large-scale mining operation in an unincorporated community on the edge of Death Valley National Park . A beneficiary of manufacturing booms during World Wars I and II , the 1050-acre Darwin mine had