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2019: Bring Opportunity Zones and Local Investors Together in Your Community

Co-Learning Plan - 2019

Authors: Mary ZumBrunnen and Chris Miller, City of Adrian


This Co-Learning Plan focused on developing best practices for a small Opportunity Zone within the City of Adrian concentrating on fund development and attraction. Within an Opportunity Zone, investors may receive capital gains relief in low-income census tracts of distressed communities. As such, historical and current barriers to investment must be overcome with best practices unique to their region identified. Working with a host of national, state, and local partners, the City created is disseminating this resource toolkit for small cities identified for this type of social investment.

Author Information

Mary ZumBrunnen, City of Adrian

Mary ZumBrunnen is the founder and chief executive officer of For almost two decades she has worked across communities at home and abroad focused on sustainable development to improve quality of life. Working in developing and industrialized countries, it became very clear to her that there is only so much one person may effectually impact. Therefore, since 2005 she has focused on Michigan, helping hundreds grow their community vision to fruition. It is from the impact of these experiences that One-Community Consulting is daily spurred to connect industry expertise to solve cross-sector challenges.

Mary believes in paying it forward and offers rich training ground for those also wishing to give back to their community through One-Community Consulting's unique social entrepreneur knowledge leadership system. Learn more about Mary's background including: commitment to National Service, sustainable development, public health, and regional food systems, as well as her awards and publications on LinkedIn. A serious Spartan, she holds a BS in agriculture and natural resource communication and MS' degrees in community resource development and business administration – all from Michigan State University. She is also a two time fellow through both the US Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Program and the Michigan Talent and Economic Development Project Rising Tide initiative.

In March of 2018 Mary's first book, Transcendent Partnership: Aligning Agendas for Collective Impact, based on her consulting background, was published by Difference Press and a second edition was later published by Morgan James Publishing. This reached #1 on Amazon in both Business & Money and Politics & Social Science in the areas of philanthropy and charities. In this book she shares some of her experiences as a community developer with particular focus on working within the city of Flint, Michigan. Combining her professional expertise around implementing more sustainable living and business strategies, she applies business supply chain management theory to work through many common systems challenges citizen stakeholders run into when solving large scale community issues. For more information, please see

Chris Miller, City of Adrian

Chris Miller is the lead economic and downtown developer for the City of Adrian, MI. A former City Commissioner, Chris has a background in business, education - in private and international schools - and non-profit and government leadership work. He is a founding board member of the National Coalition for Community Capital, an organization committed to the strengthening of local economies through the democratization of capital and investment.

In his work, Chris has partnered with and engaged community members, agency, and government officials, business leaders, investors, elected officials, and a variety of organizations from local to state and national levels. He has worked extensively with university and college staff and students on a variety of projects, notably with the Ford School at the University of Michigan, where student teams have produced white papers analyzing a variety of topics ranging from community capital paradigms to local government efficacy and collaboration.

Chris led the effort to establish Michigan's investment crowdfunding law and has spoken about community capital across the state and nation. He personally facilitated significant public and private investments in the community and has counselled leaders of other communities and projects across Michigan.

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