CDCs are leaders in tearing down walls, literally and figuratively, and creating communities where ALL people can live with dignity while participating in and benefiting from our economy. This is the ideal vision of what CDCs are striving to achieve. But most people don’t have the faintest clue who we are or what the acronym CDC means. The general public’s understanding of a CDC, if they have one at all, most likely is centered on affordable housing. We, as a field, aren’t very good at telling the public what we do. Why we do it.
Tibbetts Optical is a 17 year old retail optical shop owned and operated by Brenda Tibbetts, a sole proprietor, for the past two and a half years. She's grown the business from gross sales of $101,055 in 2011 to $130,714 in 2012. It is now a very attractive retail storefront business in downtown Monson. Brenda is an active participant in the downtown merchants group.
Last January I received a good bit of teasing for a blog post that I wrote entitled Could 2012 be the Best Year For Massachusetts CDCs Since 1982? Many of my colleagues thought that I was, at best, hopelessly optimistic or, at worst, strangely naive. The truth is that I was shamelessly promoting both MACDC's 30th anniversary (we were created in 1982) and our campaign to pass the Community Development Partnership Act, which I suggested would be the most important piece of community dev
Starting in the mid 1970s, Mel King and other visionary leaders of the community development movement worked systematically to build a support infrastructure for CDCs in Massachusetts. They understood that such a system could grow what was then a nascent movement of community based development organizations, largely in Boston, and transform it into a robust, statewide field that could achieve impact at scale. So they created CEDAC, CDFC, the CDC Enabling Act, Chapter 40F, the CEED program, LISC and ultimately, in 1982, the Massachusetts Association of CDCs.
Back in October, in the pouring rain, a group of people got on a small school bus and drove around different neighborhoods in Worcester. The Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business had sponsored a tour to examine community economic development throughout Massachusetts. The tour took legislators, municipal officials, small business owners, housing advocates and others to Springfield, Beverly, Kingston, Brewster and Boston.
Increasing the supply of capital to low and moderate income communities has been a central goal of the community development movement since its inception. From the passage of the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977, to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit in 1986, to the establishment of the CDFI fund in 1995, to the New Market Tax Credit in 2000, advocates have won significant changes in public policy that have dramatically expanded the capital available to our communities.
In many ways, the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston and the suburban town of Arlington, Massachusetts are very different. Roxbury is a low income urban neighborhood with per capita income of about $16,000 and 86 percent of the population comprised of people of color. By contrast, Arlington has a per capita income of $44,000 and 86 percent of the population is white. And, of course, they sit on opposite sides of the Charles River.
I greatly enjoyed Russ Douthat’s column in last week’s Sunday New York Times called “Our Reckless Meritocracy." Reflecting on former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s fall from grace, Douthat notes that many super smart and super successful leaders in business and politics have “led us off a cliff — mostly by being too smart for [their] own good.” Douthat continues,