State & Local Investments

Neighborhood Opportunity Fund

Established in 2016 to ensure that the growth of downtown Chicago catalyzes equitable development across the city, Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund uses revenue from downtown developments to finance commercial and cultural projects in neighborhoods lacking private investment.  The fund aims to support projects that will have a catalytic impact on the neighborhood and lead to the development of new commercial spaces or cultural establishments.  Included in the criteria used to select grantees is a project’s impact on community wealth, which includes an assessment of how communities benefit from the project and the extent to which local entrepreneurs, property owners, and residents are included.  The Fund’s first round of grants is expected to disburse about $4 million.

Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI)

Launched in 2016, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) focuses on helping Atlanta women business owners succeed.  To do so, it provides free incubator space to grow their businesses and workshops and mentorship to emerging and future women entrepreneurs.  Its incubator program currently includes 15 women, all of whom have been operating small Atlanta businesses for at least 2 years.

Invest Atlanta

As the City’s official economic development authority, Invest Atlanta works to strengthen Atlanta’s economy and global competitiveness to create increased opportunity and prosperity for city residents.  It administers a range of loan programs to support small business.  For instance, its Opportunity Loan Program provides gap financing to Atlanta small and medium-sized businesses that create at least five new jobs.  Established to catalyze job creation, economic development, and neighborhood revitalization in underserved areas of Atlanta, its New Markets Catalyst Fund is a revolving loan program that provides loans to businesses in designated low-income census tracks.  In 2015, Invest Atlanta made loans to 21 small businesses, investments credited with leveraging $2.5 million in development activity.

New Haven Small Contractor Development Program

New Haven’s Small Contractor Development Program aims to help grow the city’s small minority and women-owned businesses by providing them with technical assistance, mentoring, networking, and targeted opportunities.  All city construction contracts of $150,000 or less are reserved for contractors registered in the program, and larger contracts have a 25 percent small subcontractor requirement.  The program also includes a loan program to help small contractors finance preliminary material and payroll costs up to $100,000.

Livable City Initiative (LCI)

New Haven’s Livable City Initiative (LCI) is the City’s neighborhood-focused effort to enhance the experience of those who live and work in New Haven.  To do so, LCI focuses on enforcing housing code and public space requirements and on implementing programs and public improvements to support high quality, affordable, energy efficient housing and safer, healthier, more attractive communities.  To help attract and retain residents, its Re New Haven initiative packages up to $80,000 in incentives for new homeowners, including $10,000 for down payment assistance, up to $30,000 for energy saving renovations, and full-tuition at in-state schools for public school graduates.

Baltimore City Anchor Plan

Developed over a two-year planning process by the Office of the Mayor, numerous city agencies, and eight Baltimore-based universities and hospitals, the Baltimore City Anchor Plan is concrete action plan that defines the mutual commitments of the City and participating anchors in four priority areas:  public safety, local hiring, local purchasing, and quality of life.  The plan is organized around geographic sectors to encourage collaboration, partnerships, and targeted investments that could produce greater impacts and also to help the City provide information to anchors about ongoing City investments and activities in a more coordinated and comprehensive manner.  In 2015, the city awarded grant funding to four projects involving its anchor partners, including an effort spearheaded by Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) to conduct merchant organizing, business development and recruitment, and marketing in an area suffering from disinvestment.

Miami-Dade County Prosperity Initiatives Feasibility Study

Edward Murray and Kevin T. Greiner
Florida International University Metropolitan Center

This feasibility study conducted by the Florida International University Metropolitan Center outlines opportunities to promote broad-based prosperity and economic growth in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Recognizing the importance of addressing wealth inequality, the study highlights best practices that promote economic mobility and greater equity. The authors include a “Preliminary Action Agenda” which suggests directing up to $10 million to create a social enterprise accelerator, a community benefit agreement ordinance, a children’s saving account program, and an employee-owned business development program:

Community Wealth Building Form: What they are and how to use them at the local level

Steve Dubb
Academy of Management Perspectives

In this article for the Academy of Management PerspectivesSteve Dubb, Director of Special Projects at the Democracy Collaborative, writes a comprehensive review on community wealth building strategies, progress, and implementation in local communities:

"Building Community Wealth" Forum featuring Sarah McKinley

In partnership with Northland College's Center for Rural Communities and WITC, a League Forum features Sarah McKinley, Manager of Community Development Programs at the Democracy Collaborative. She presents on her research and travels around the US visiting cities who noted for their innovative strategies resulting in growing more prosperous local communities.
Read more about "Building Community Wealth" Forum featuring Sarah McKinley...

Co-operative Enterprises for Job Creation & Business Development

Approved in 2014, Madison’s Co-operative Enterprises for Job Creation & Business Development plan authorizes the city to spend $1 million a year from 2016 to 2020 on worker-owned business development—making it the largest allocation toward cooperative development by a U.S. municipality to date.  Policymakers intend for the funding to catalyze job creation and general economic development in the city. Read more about Co-operative Enterprises for Job Creation & Business Development...

Rochester Mayor: Investing in Co-ops Builds “Stairway Out of Poverty”

Oscar Perry Abello
Next City

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announces an amazing city initiative to build community wealth. We've been working with the Rochester municipal government to develop a plan to uplift communities by investing in worker-owned businesses, inspired in part by the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland. As this article from Next City describes, the plan involves the creation of a community-owned and -operated "Market Driven Community Cooperatives Corporation" to oversee the effort.

Steel Valley Authority

Incorporated in 1986 by the City of Pittsburgh and 11 other riverfront municipalities within the Mon-Valley region, Steel Valley Authority (SVA) is a cross-jurisdictional governmental authority aiming to retain and revitalize the region’s economic base.  To do so, SVA’s work falls into three key areas: providing technical assistance to at-risk companies; promoting responsible capital investment; and building sustainable communities.  SVA’s Pittsburgh Clean and Green Initiative, part of its Building Sustainable Communities program, seeks to create worker ownership opportunities across the P Read more about Steel Valley Authority...

Pittsburgh’s Central Keystone Innovation Zone

The Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone (PCKIZ) is a consortium of higher education institutions, businesses, government agencies, and community organizations aiming to ensure the neighborhoods in central Pittsburgh can participate within the region’s knowledge-based economy.  To do so, the group provides a combination of tax incentives, entrepreneurial resources, educational and internship programs, networking events, and technology showcases designed to boost technology and economic development activities.  As of 2015, 41 startups in the zone were benefiting from access to tax credits, business capital, paid interns, and networking opportunities.  PCKIZ is also managing and overseeing the city’s nascent Pittsburgh Wealth Building Initiative (PWBI), which aims to catalyze the creation of employee-owned/community-based businesses in low-income neighborhoods that meet the procurement needs of area anchor institutions and create new pipelines to connect residents to job opportunities at those institutions.

City of Dayton Office of Economic Development

The City of Dayton Office of Economic Development runs two grant programs aimed to foster job creation and business growth.  Its Dayton Economic Attraction Program provides annual grants for up to three years (capped at $1 million) to businesses that create at least five new, living-wage, full-time jobs in the downtown area or in key industry sectors.  Through the Dayton Development Fund, it also provides grant funding for local business expansion projects that create or retain jobs.  The Office’s work in 2013 is credited with retaining over 800 jobs, creating over 575 new jobs, and generating $47.4 million in private project funding.

Vermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC)

Based in Burlington, the Vermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC) is a statewide nonprofit that promotes and fosters employee ownership as a way to broaden capital ownership, deepen employee participation, retain jobs, increase living standards for working families, and stabilize communities.  To do so, VEOC provides information and resources to owners interested in selling a business to employees, employee groups interested in purchasing a business, and entrepreneurs interested in starting a company with shared ownership.  VEOC also administers a loan fund, which provides up to $50,000 in loans to businesses that are, or are becoming, employee-owned. Since its establishment in 2001, VEOC has provided assistance to nearly 200 businesses.

Burlington Housing Trust Fund

Funded from a dedicated tax approved by voters in 1989, the Burlington Housing Trust Fund provides grants and loans for the promotion, retention, and creation of long-term affordable housing for very low, low, and moderate-income households.  Grants are provided to support the direct project, as well as capacity building, costs (such as staffing, training, planning, fundraising, and ongoing operational expenses), of nonprofit organizations working to create or preserve low or moderate income housing.  In FY 2016, the Fund plans to provide $337,750 of support to Burlington organizations.

Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO)

Established in 1983 under the leadership of then Mayor Bernie Sanders, Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) aims to engage the community to build a vibrant, healthy, and equitable city.  Its economic development efforts include targeted assistance to small businesses, microenterprises, and employers who provide livable wage jobs.  It also runs the Burlington Revolving Loan Program, which has provided over $10 million in loans to more than 140 small businesses since its inception in 1984.

Symposium: Creating Opportunity through Collaboration

February 24th, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia

This coming February, our friends at NeighborWorks will host a convention of local and national experts, thought leaders and innovators for a stimulating day of presentations, interactive sessions, networking and up-close learning that will help you understand and capitalize on the vital connection between community development, education, health and employment. Read more about Symposium: Creating Opportunity through Collaboration...