Five trends to look for in 2011

January 3rd, 2011 by Joe Kriesberg

As we look forward to a new year, here are five trends that will shape the Massachusetts community development field in 2011 and beyond.

1. CDC Certification will reshape the field. 

This year will see the start of the new CDC certification program established by the legislature and the Governor in 2009. DHCD is currently working to craft the guidelines and procedures needed so that nonprofits can start applying for certification by the spring. The certification program will bring greater clarity, transparency and resources to the CDC sector. It will also transform our collective perceptions about what types of nonprofits are really CDCs from the 1975 vision that was locked in place by MGL Chapter 40(f) to a new, more flexible, and more relevant definition under MGL Chapter 40(h).   MACDC will be advocating for state policies that can help CDCs achieve their community’s goals. This will include legislation to create a new tax credit program and other policies that target funding to CDCs. The result will be a larger, more diverse, and more adaptive network of local community development organizations that can get results.

Former industrial area is transformed into housing.

2. A tighter affordable housing pipeline will pose serious challenges.

The state has a pipeline of high quality housing projects that far exceed the resources available to DHCD. This will force CDCs and all developers to wait longer to receive funding and will begin to reduce the number of new projects that developers can initiate. That’s a shame because CDCs (and others) have many opportunities that will be delayed or terminated. DHCD will need to reassess how to prioritize its limited funding and affordable housing developers will have to take a realistic look at their business model or risk being financially weakened by projects that can’t move forward.

3. A continued increase in collaboration will drive innovation.

Collaboration has become such a buzz word that it sometimes sounds more like a cliché than a strategy. But the fact remains; collaboration is the key to success in today’s community development field. In 2011, you can expect to see many new and expanded collaborations among CDCs and between CDCs and other partners in such areas as housing development, asset management, small business, green jobs, and public transit advocacy.

4. Reenergized state support for small business development will create new opportunities.

The newly established Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation will begin to devise and implement a new framework for providing technical support and financing to small businesses across the Commonwealth. The MGCC will fund and strengthen the Small Business Technical Assistance program and support local and regional nonprofit micro business lenders. The result will be a more effective and targeted strategy for supporting immigrant and minority-owned business enterprises and reaching traditionally hard to serve markets such as inner city neighborhoods and rural areas.

5. Comprehensive, placed-based strategies will gain prominence. 

This year we will see a growing emphasis within the field on placed-based, long-term, and comprehensive approaches to community change. More and more CDCs will be engaging local residents in community planning and partnering with allies in other fields such as public health, public safety, workforce development, public transit, clean energy, and education. This trend will be supported by at least two new initiatives sponsored by LISC (Resilient Communities/Resilient Families) and the Smart Growth Alliance (Great Neighborhoods.) Federal policy will also support this trend through the Promise Neighborhoods, Choice Neighborhoods and Sustainable Communities programs. 

These trends create opportunities and challenges for community developers. We look forward to working with our members and partners to ensure that the trends lead to stronger and more vibrant communities across the Commonwelath.

Happy New Year!

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