Q: What’s the difference between community economic development and traditional economic development ?

A: A lot! In fact, they are so different that the Democracy Collaborative, which made the chart below, has coined the term “community wealth building” to set apart the truly community-oriented practitioners of economic development.

Shelterforce is a nonprofit publication, published by the National Housing Institute. We are not beholden to a particular program, theory, approach, or constituency. We are dedicated to being useful to our readers and to fostering strong, vibrant, just, healthy places for everyone.


  1. I wish I had seen this one when it was published. I’m glad that you set out to distinguish between CED & traditional E.D.

    The planning field has long been dominated by “urban planners” who focus upon the built environment, & define success in business, transactional terms. CED practitioners focus upon raising standards of living & quality of life outcomes, in real terms, & define success in socioeconomic terms.

    So PLEASE STOP defining “economic development” in business terms; after all, this term is a PUBLIC sector term, hence, the need & requirement to produce PUBLIC outcomes, where needs are greatest. If you want to support business growth & development, join the Chamber of Commerce, as this is their mission if life.

    The mission for CED practitioners is to produce socioeconomic results, leveraging public resources to “move the needle”. We are far behind in understanding & applying BASIC planning terms, which have been hijacked to subsidize the private sector at the expense of middle & lower income families, leading to widening economic segregation, fees, taxes, & gentrification (the bad kind).

    We need to do far better in our terminology, concepts, and outcomes.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.