Economic Development

Economic activity is a crucial part of a healthy community, whether it’s access to quality jobs for residents, business support, or a functioning, diverse range of retail options.

Yellow sign reading 'Aloha.'

Reflecting and Planning Using a Community Wealth Building Lens

Over an organization’s 25 years in existence, how do staff and volunteers measure impact and build off of lessons learned to guide their next steps forward?

The Governor’s Budget Non-strategy

It wouldn’t be surprising to see non-Californians still do a double-take when the title “Governor” is applied to former on-screen cyborg Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was...
johns hopkins medical library

In Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Seeks to Be a Good Neighbor

The current HopkinsLocal effort, a three-year program launched in September 2015, is also clearly a response to the death of Freddie Gray and the events that followed.
The spires and statue atop an old bank building.

CRA “Reform” Under Trump Threatens Communities of Color and the 99 Percent

Banks enjoy consumer and taxpayer-funded privileges, such as deposit insurance, and not too long ago, subsidized trillion-dollar bailouts. It’s not too much to insist that they invest a fair share of those dollars back into all of our communities.
mallach book cover

Can Cities Fix Their Polarization Problem? A Review of The Divided City

How different would cities look and how different would people’s lives be if those with the power to set policy and invest resources prioritized the most vulnerable residents and the neighborhoods they live in?

Underneath the Surface, a Community Fish Story

Sometimes I learn about the details of a community's development in the most random ways. My family gets together...

Is Your Town a Parasite?

What would you do if someone told you your town, the place you'd grown up in and where you had...

More Than Marching: Creating Good Jobs That Protect Our Water And Air

Trump and his cronies are backtracking on ensuring a clean energy economy that provides green jobs to make our communities sustainable.

Reconnecting Shared Visions to Investment Opportunities

Recently, over two sizable cups of locally-roasted coffee, a colleague and I mulled over a simple question: “How can...

Want a Stronger Economy? Focus More on Racial Inclusion

  As housing and community development practitioners, you need little convincing that dismantling racial barriers to economic opportunity—from policing practices to exclusionary zoning—is critical to building stronger, more cohesive communities. But what about the economic cost of these persistent racial inequities? Might segregated regions not just undermine the country’s moral fabric, but also hinder its […]

Making Community Benefits Agreements Count

CBAs can be extremely difficult to implement and enforce, which is why a detailed agreement in the early stages of the community-developer relationship is so important.
A worker at Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, which recently secured new contracts for 3 million pounds of health care linens.

Green Jobs with Roots

For the founders of Cleveland's Evergreen Coops, putting a handful of people to work at minimum wage isn't worth it. They are aiming at nothing less than a ground-up economic transformation -- one owned by the very people it's intended to help.

The Dollar Stores Take Their Place on the Block

When I lived in the big city, there was a Family Dollar among the various retail, cafe, bar and restaurant establishments on the nearby...
participatory budgeting fliers

Participatory Budgeting: Why Not Fix Everyone’s Sink?

Participatory budgeting offers a glimpse of how a more civically engaged society might work, but it’s also a distraction.

Community Groups’ Role Vanishes Under New Federal Workforce Legislation

On July 22, 2014, after it passed by wide bipartisan margins earlier in the year, the Workforce Innovation and...

Placemaking for, and by, Whom?

Place-Making in Legacy Cities: Opportunities and Good Practices, prepared by New Solution Group LLC in partnership with Center for Community Progress, December 2013.

How One City Is Keeping Jobs Local Using Co-ops

In 1971, the owners of The Cheese Board turned their Berkeley, California, mom-and-pop shop into a co-op, where they...

Extending a Bank Branch to the Community

The systemic closing of bank branches in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods is followed by payday lenders, pawnshops, and check cashing services stepping in to fill the void.

Crackdown Rocks Real-Estate Industry

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced today that the Justice Department has indicted more than 400 defendants in 144 mortgage fraud cases. The indictments,...
Black-and-white photo of DACA information table.

Defending DACA Is a Moral and Economic Imperative

President Donald Trump has decided to end the Obama-era program that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants. Over the course of its five-year history,...

Why Eds and Meds Matter for Community Economic Development

A recent article in Atlantic Cities by Richard Florida, titled “Where 'Eds and Meds' Industries Could Become a Liability,”...

Do New Yorkers Need an Emerald City?

The Christian Science Monitor reported a few days ago on the Bloomberg administration’s plans to redevelop the Willets Point industrial area of Queens (just...

Hubs Help Move the Local Food Movement to the Next Level

It’s not unusual to read a press release from a governor’s or mayor’s office celebrating a deal to bring a new company to a neighborhood or city. Typically we’d be talking about a new manufacturing or tech firm, and the press release would speak glowingly of the prospects for economic development. Which makes a bit […]

R Street Apartments: Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Goes Green

Once marked by underinvestment and criminal activity, few neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. have undergone as significant a redevelopment over the last decade as the historic Logan Circle neighborhood.

Using City Government to Build Community Wealth

While the two major party presidential candidates have many differences, both agree on the primacy of free enterprise.  Mitt Romney...

You’re Gonna Change the Economy? How, Exactly?

If people were surprised at how skeptical voters in the recent West Virginia Democratic primary were of Barack Obama’s casting himself as the candidate...

Let’s Talk About Jobs—And Ownership

Community economic development is not just a matter of helping some households to get jobs and pay their bills. Done thoughtfully, it’s about . . .

Sprawl vs. Unions

The three very different stories of the building trades in Atlanta, Denver, and Portland, Ore., show just how much urban development patterns affect workers.
people gathered under and around an information tent

Persistently Poor Regions Would Welcome a Little Gentrification

It is often said that you get what you pay for. Clearly, too little is being paid to create positive change in America’s most vulnerable places.
A retail saleswoman at a counter.

When Work Creates Insecurity

Many of us think that any employment, even part time, provides a measure of security. This is not the case for the millions of...

New Jersey Divests from Payday Lending

Advocates in New Jersey mobilize to make a state pension fund put its money where its state regulations are.

Strengthening the CRA

In 1995, the last time federal banking agencies revised the rules of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), they promised to conduct a follow-up review...

How Not To Do Economic Development

Camden is one of the most distressed cities in the United States, and if any city needs state help...

To Build a Community Economy, Start With Solidarity

How residents who can't afford to buy in can still get the benefits of co-op work and housing.
A rendering of what Port Covington would look like once the decades-long project is completed.

Who Will Benefit from Port Covington?

Advocates, city leaders, and Under Armour's real estate arm negotiate a $660 million tax deal and a vision for economic development in Baltimore.

Filling Commercial Vacancies with Food Pantries

When I tell people that food pantries can be a new and innovative way to help lift up communities, they look at me as...

Local Hire: Popular and Controversial

In March, USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx began moving toward fully implementing “Local Hire,” a new, year long model program...

An Industrial Revolution Comes to Indianapolis

Abandoned factories have been an economic albatross for Midwestern cities since the 1990s, when American manufacturers moved overseas or...

New Lenses on Economic Development

Billions of taxpayer dollars are spent every year to stimulate economic development. Is it going where we think it’s going?

Will Financial Crisis Lead to Hard Times for Nonprofits?

With congressional leaders reaching an agreement Thursday afternoon on the president’s proposal to pump $700 billion into the country’s financial system, it’s not yet...

Put Your Spending Where Your Goals Are

Local procurement policies take money already being spent and direct it to local businesses to get more economic development benefit for the buck.

A Gem for New Jersey Neighborhood Revitalization

'A dollar and a dream,' was the phrase I read in a brochure about the starting point for revitalizing neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Revitalization...

Keeping Everyone Afloat: Is Universal Basic Income the Answer?

Advocates and organizers who deal with the needs of the poor often say it's not really a housing/food/training issue, it's an income issue. So what would happen if we just addressed income?

The Next Boom for Worker Co-ops?

Baby boomers are the largest percentage of business owners, and they’re headed toward retirement. The worker cooperative movement wants to keep the jobs they’ve created from disappearing.

A Victory for Local Control re: Fracking

Localities in New York State appear to have won the right to ban fracking, thanks to a decision by the...

Manufactured Locally

While there is much debate about the state of large-scale domestic manufacturing, a few places are quietly supporting local manufacturing for items that have been made overseas for some time, from jewelry to jeans.
A panel discussion about Opportunity Zones in Chicago.

Who Will Benefit From Opportunity Zones? It’s Still Unclear

Who will benefit most from these investments remains the biggest question.

Building the Cars of the Future . . . in Detroit

How the nonprofit Focus: HOPE is helping to bring manufacturing jobs back to Detroit, and the Detroiters who need them.

Countrywide Is Not On Your Side

Angelo Mozilo, the Countrywide financial chairman who is arguably the poster child for the current subprime meltdown, just learned the difference between e-mail reply...

“Learning In”: A Coalition Organizes for Equitable Redevelopment

Residents and small business owners are already seeing rents rise in Union Square, a diverse neighborhood in the largely working class city of Somerville...

Long Time Coming

After 40 years of abuse and neglect, will the residents of D.C.'s once-vibrant Shaw neighborhood succeed in redefining the value of people and place?

CRA Modernization:  A Critical Moment for Underserved Neighborhoods

The Community Reinvestment Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act hold great promise for the creation of a more financially inclusive nation, but both depend on critical "moments in time" in Congress that will determine whether they become good laws or are weakened beyond recognition

With Rising Property Taxes, Should Non-Profits Now Pay Their “Fair Share”?

It’s tight here in New Jersey. And it’s because it’s crowded. With 8.7 million people, we are 11th in the country in population, but...

A New Way to Finance Equitable Economic Development?

Big companies discovered the long-stagnant Immigrant Investor Program EB-5 after the 2008 financial crisis. Can community developers bend the program toward their goals too?

Tracking the Recession and the Recovery

The Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings announced today the launch of its MetroMonitor, a tool that measures the health of 100 of America’s largest...

Response to Darren Walker’s New Gospel of Wealth

Ford Foundation President Darren Walker recently circulated a thought-provoking piece declaring the foundation’s commitment to tackling the worldwide problem of inequality. In the piece, Walker...
Women looking at museum exhibit

The Cavalry Is Us: Civil Rights and Cooperative Action

In our nation’s most vulnerable places, every vulnerable person and those more fortunate who care about their well being, are best served when we come together to help ourselves.

Keeping the Jobs in House

Humboldt Construction Company, a subsidiary of a Chicago CDC, has been providing local employment for over 30 years. But it hasn't been easy.
old and new buildings in Harlem

New York City Needs to Stop Negotiating Rezonings From an Uneven Playing Field

What is the underlying dynamic that leads so many council members in low-income communities of color to approve neighborhood rezonings, despite community opposition and the likelihood of increased displacement pressure on existing residents?

Tracking Job Creation in the Nonprofit Sector

Rick Cohen, a long-time Shelterforce contributor and editor of The Nonprofit Quarterly‘s “Cohen Report” wrote last week on the importance of nonprofits tracking their...
The spires and statue atop an old bank building.

Would Trump’s CRA Reform Really “Do No Harm?”

NCRC examined every single Community Reinvestment Act evaluation for mid-size banks conducted during 2016.

In Hawaii, A Holistic Approach to Treat a Broken Economy

Ho‘owaiwai—genuine wealth—was mentioned last month as wealth that was beyond financial; wealth that included our relationships with our family,...

Interview with Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Jay Williams was the mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, from 2006 to 2011, at a time when Youngstown was attracting notoriety for making the unusual assertion that, rather than longing for its bygone glory days before the steel mills closed, it was going to embrace a vision of becoming a smaller, yet more vibrant city. (See Shelterforce’s “Small Is Beautiful, Again”, for more on this approach and how it affects low-income residents.) Williams is now assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, and administrator of the Economic Development Administration. Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Commerce, Williams served as the executive director of the Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, and he also served in the White House as deputy director for the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. In this position, he led efforts to engage mayors, city council members, and county officials around the country.

Shelterforce spoke with Williams at the conference of the National Alliance of Economic Development Associations last fall in San Antonio.

A Response to ‘A New Gospel of Wealth,’ Part Two

In my last blog post, I responded to Ford Foundation president Darren Walker’s essay in which he outlines a new direction for the foundation ...

Reconnecting Jobs and Housing

National community development leaders discuss making the case for housing in a "jobs above all else" political environment.

Focus on Scale Up, Not Start-up

To truly transform local neighborhoods, we must shift our attention to invest in enterprise scale, not start-ups, as a long-lasting solution for creating good jobs.

Letting the Dollars Land

To realize the promise of community investment, the capacity of specific places to absorb available capital needs to grow.

Outside Investment or Self-Reliance for Rural Success?

Recently I came across a couple articles that questioned the economic viability of rural areas in large parts of...

Local Leaders Just Gained a New Tool to Address Inequality

A new Brookings Institution analysis confirms what we are feeling: inequality continues to climb in cities, and large income...

Vacant Storefronts: They’re Not Just For Ghost Towns Anymore

From the City of Millville way down in South Jersey to Morristown up in the northern state suburbs, downtowns across New Jersey are approaching...

Farming With Benefits

One of the many striking commercials that aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl was a celebration of the American farmer, although...

The Hidden Threat of Tax Cuts to Equitable Economic Development

Although the Trump administration’s recent budget proposal offers only a look at expenses, with no numbers on revenue, it...

Parks For Revitalization

The image in this post, which photographer Bill Lim has made available to us through the wonder of the Creative Commons, is of the...
The cover of Democratizing Finance: Origins of the Community Development Financial Institution Movement by Clifford N. Rosenthal, Friesen Press

Tracing the Roots of CDFIs: A review of Democratizing Finance

This book is a major contribution to increasing knowledge and awareness of how far the community development finance movement has come in 30 years.

Eds and Meds and the Three-Legged Stool of Economic Development

My first reactions to Richard Florida's recent attempt to tip the sacred cow of “eds and meds” (universities and hospitals)...

Expanding the Scope of Community Development

More than four decades of suburban growth have moved demographic, political, and economic power from central cities toward their suburban counties. The change can...

Forging a Transformative Vision

Building economic power through community ownership is the antidote to the systemic failures of our current system.

Time to Bet on Prize-Linked Savings

During 15 years of working within a community development corporation to create and support socially and economically resilient communities, one of my perpetual frustrations...

Easing into Investment?

Joe Kriesberg of Mass. Assoc. of CDCs recently took a trip to Cuba with a group of community development colleagues....

Uber-noxious

At the PolicyLink Equity Summit the last week of October, Orson Aguilar of the Greenlining Institute was taking a...

In the South, Politics and Tourism Don’t Mix

The Civil War is big business in Virginia, which saw more than its share of big battles during the...

Can Community Wealth Building Redefine City Economic Development?

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Lifting the Fog on Section 3

When it's more appealing to circumvent the law requiring that jobs in public housing construction go to qualified residents than to follow it, something needs to change.

In Detroit, the Fight for Community Benefits Begins Anew

For equitable development activists, Detroit’s Community Benefits Ordinance may seem like major progress. And it is—just not how they may imagine it to be.

A Bigger, Better Vision for the Left

What would full employment look like? Minority contractors, pastors, and faith leaders flew to the Capitol last week to...

Hey Supposed Economic Recovery, You Missed a Spot

The economic recovery is not reaching all people in all places. I suppose this should be obvious. But as a...

“Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses” Is a Meaningless Category

How many times have you seen the phrase “women- and minority-owned businesses” or seen an organization list a single...

Can The Silk City Forge Its Next Industrial Revolution?

New Jersey's Paterson is among the nation's oldest planned industrial cities, but it has fallen on hard times since the once-booming silk industry there declined in the latter half of the 20th century. Much of the industry in this city of 150,000 has since left, but now a geological attraction once envisioned by Alexander Hamilton as something that could be harnessed for industrial might, is fully protected, and could be channeled, this time, for its community-building potential.

Time for Worker Cooperatives to Go Mainstream

Cities are at the crosswalk of talent and density, and they have a lot to lose by not thinking...
dilapidated Detroit building 2009

The Important Deadline Coming Up for All Governors

States have a deadline to submit their Opportunity Zones nominations. What factors will be weighed in the decision process, and what will federal designation mean to distressed neighborhoods?

Casinos are Parasites

It is not news that communities desperate for jobs and economic development often make terrible long-term decisions, welcoming in...
store closing

The Displacement Crisis of Immigrant-Owned Small Businesses

Growth of new business is a sign of a robust economy, but New York City’s true success hinges on ensuring that all residents have access to opportunity and community resources.
person holding Amazon delivery box

The Amazon Opportunity to Revitalize Urban Communities

It's not too late for cities competing to be the next home to Amazon to raise the issue of employer-assisted workforce housing.
A yellow house on a corner.

The Power of Proximity: Making the Case for Living Where You Work

Twenty years later, it’s hard to overstate how wise I think that group of board members was in imposing its residency requirement on me. While initially skeptical, over the years I’ve learned some powerful lessons about the benefits of proximity.

Building Bridges, Building Muscle, Building Momentum

Two cities show how community-based organizations and labor can overcome their historical divide to work together.

CDCs Step In Where Banks Fear to Tread

Early in 2010, the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program released a report indicating that half of the $1.4 trillion in...

“Let’s Refuel America”

According to a report in The New York Times Monday, auto sales are down by more than a million compared to 2007’s 16.2 million...

Anchoring “The Community” to the Community Building Movement

Community building has many definitions all of which capture an integrated approach to addressing poverty. For me, community...

We Should Be Working Less

Changing our assumptions about what constitutes "normal" full time work could help address all sorts of social problems, from unemployment to civic disengagement.

How Much Money Is Your City or State Losing to “Economic Development?”

Have you ever wondered how much money your city or state is actually losing when it gives a 20-year tax break to a developer in exchange for a handful of jobs? You might soon be able to find out. As Shawn Escoffery of the Surdna Foundation and Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First explain in […]