Can Massachusetts Replicate Policy Success Achieved in Other States?

Throughout my years at MACDC, I have been an active participant in a network of CDC associations from around the country. The network – first convened by the National Congress for Community Economic Development and now by the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) – provides an opportunity to learn about programs and policies in other states that might be applicable in Massachusetts. (It’s also a great place to commiserate with the very small group of people who do the same work we do at MACDC!)

The Mel King Institute for Community Building was partially inspired by CED training programs in other states and now MACDC is trying to replicate another successful approach that has been well tested in other states.  For years, state and cities around the country have operated so-called “Neighborhood Assistance Programs” that provide tax credits to encourage corporations and individuals to donate more money to selected community based nonprofit organizations that offer high quality programming.  The programs vary from place to place, with some placing more emphasis on community development and others on human services. The size of the credit can range from 30% to100% and from one year to 10 years. And some programs are more competitive than others. In each case, the programs foster stronger partnerships between the private sector and the non profit sector and they leverage public investment with private contributions.

After studying a number of these programs, in particular Philadelphia, New Jersey and South Carolina, MACDC has proposed legislation to create the Community Development Partnership program here in Massachusetts. (We also looked at Virgina, Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Deleware.) Earlier this year, Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Linda Dorcena Forry, along with 46 other legislators filed this bill for consideration in the State House. We think the bill takes some of the best elements of the different programs around the country and tailors them to the Massachusetts context. Specifically, the bill would provide a 50% tax credit to corporations and individuals who make a donation to community based organizations that have been carefully vetted through a competitive process administrated by DHCD. To qualify, the community organization must first be certified as a CDC under MGL Chapter 40H to ensure that the group is both genuinely community based and has a core mission of community development. Second, the organization must be selected by DHCD for a tax credit award through a highly competitive process in which each organization submits a thoughtful, long term business plan that outlines their goals, strategies and metrics for success. I encourage you to read the legislation and/or our summary of the bill to learn more.

The key idea behind the bill is that local community members can use this program to develop and implement their own local strategies for creating jobs, growing businesses, building homes and otherwise improving their communities. It will support demand driven community development in a way that we have never been able to do before and will increase the scale and impact of our community development efforts throughout the state.

You will be reading more about this exciting new legislation in future blog posts. You can also learn more about how these programs work and other community development initiatives around the country by joining MACDC at NACEDA’s Annual Summit in Washington, DC from May 23 -25.   Please join us!

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