New State & Local Policies

Job Creation for the Disadvantaged: A Review of State and Local Efforts

Karen Chapple and Robert P. Giloth

This paper examines current job creation practices, surveying the federal government response, think-tank proposals, and related programs in all fifty states. Given the failure of most to reach the least advantaged communities, we then propose an alternative set of approaches in three areas: sectoral strategies, entrepreneurship, and tax and employment policy. A conclusion discusses the challenge of generating and implementing new ideas for job creation. 

Equitable Development: The Path to an All-In Pittsburgh

Sarah Treuhaft
PolicyLink, Urban Innovation 21, Neighborhood Allies

Despite a recent development boom, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has experienced growing racial gaps in poverty, wages and employment over the past five years. This new joint report from PolicyLink, NeighborhoodAllies and Urban Innovation 21 sets forth an agenda for equitable development that prioritizes low-income residents, communities of color, immigrants, and others who have so far been excluded from Pittsburgh’s economic growth. Recommendations include expanding the use of community land trusts, leveraging anchor institution spending, and implementing diverse and local hiring and purchasing requirements for public projects:


Participatory Budgeting: Next Generation Democracy

This new white paper from the Participatory Budgeting Project discusses how governments can use participatory budgeting (PB) as a tool to foster civic participation, ensure more accountable and fair decision-making processes, and develop innovative policy solutions. The paper provides a broad overview of how PB works and highlights successes from the more than 3,000 PB efforts implemented across the United States. The paper includes perspectives from: New York City, where low-income residents represented 40 percent of participants in PB processes (compared with 29 percent for previous local elections); Boston, which has developed a youth-led PB process; and Greensboro, North Carolina, the first PB effort in the American south.


Launched in 2010 by the Baltimore Green Currency Association (BGCA), a group striving to create an alternative economy to strengthen local businesses, create jobs, encourage the formation of local supply chains, and ultimately provide economic opportunity and increased resilience to communities underserved by traditional economic structures, the BNote is a local currency accepted at over 230 independent Baltimore businesses.  As of February 2016, over 40,000 BNotes were in circulation.  Originally issued in denominations of one and five, in the spring of 2016 BGCA released its second series of notes, which include 10 and 20 notes and feature two prominent Baltimore women, Bea Gaddy and Lillie May Carroll Jackson.

Just Utilities: Organizing for solutions to the household energy crisis

Peggy Kahn and William Hoynes

This new paper from Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, a New York-based grassroots organization and member of the Right to the City Alliance, calls for “utilities justice”—the right to have affordable, accessible, healthy, and community-controlled energy. It examines the ways in which communities and families in Poughkeepsie, New York are burdened by energy insecurity and notes racial and income disparities. Recommendations put forth address affordability and access to renewables and weatherization resources, as well as local and common ownership of energy sources. The authors also list strategic advantages for utilities justice community organizing.  

Dallas Business Resource and Information Network (BRAIN)

A partnership between Dallas’ Office of Economic Development and the Dallas Public Library, Dallas BRAIN aims to position Dallas as a leading small business and entrepreneurship city by providing better access to startup and expansion resources, more transparent city services, and easier regulatory compliance.  To do so, entrepreneurs can access training sessions, workshops, counseling, networking, and free meeting space at library branches across the city (and many resources can also be accessed remotely as well). Read more about Dallas Business Resource and Information Network (BRAIN)...

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:

Highlights from our Cities Building Community Wealth convening

There's a movement building in cities across the country to reinvent economic development with a new focus on community wealth. Earlier this year, with the help of the Community and Economic Development Clinic at the CUNY School of Law and the Surdna Foundation, we hosted a daylong conversation with leaders from city governments and community-based organizations to explore this emerging movement—here's a short video highlighting the key insights and inspiring takeaways from the gathering. Read more about Highlights from our Cities Building Community Wealth convening...

"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...

Community wealth building: America’s emerging asset based approach to city economic development

Marjorie Kelly, Sarah McKinley and Violeta Duncan
Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy

Across the United States a growing number of communities are experimenting with innovative ways to create a more equal, democratic, and community-based economy from the ground up. Our Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly, Manager of Community Development Programs Sarah McKinley, and Research Associate Violeta Duncan co-write a piece for the Renewal Journal on how we can use a "politics of place" and "politics for places" to uplift communities across the country and world:

The Color of Entrepreneurship: Why the Racial Gap Among Firms Costs the U.S. Billions

Algernon Austin

“America is currently forgoing an estimated 1.1 million businesses owned by people of color because of past and present discrimination,” writes Algernon Austin, author of this new report from the Center for Global Policy Solutions. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, Austin finds that the country would produce an estimated 9 million more jobs and have $300 billion more in national income if entrepreneurship amongst people of color were proportional to their distribution in the labor force. To address this, Austin recommends creating tax credits to incentivize investments in minority-owned businesses, expanding the number of Minority Business Development Agencies, and utilizing alternative credit data for those with limited credit histories. 

Dane County TimeBank (DCTB)

Established in 2005, the Dane County TimeBank (DCTB) is a network of over 2,500 individuals and organizations who exchange services and skills in order to build community, capacity, and a better world.  In 2014, members exchanged 15,545 hours of services. Read more about Dane County TimeBank (DCTB)...

Affordable Space: How Rising Commercial Rents Are Threatening Independent Businesses, and What Cities Are Doing About It

Olivia LaVecchia and Stacy Mitchell
Institute for Local Self-Reliance

This new brief from National Housing Conference explores how affordable housing and community development organizations can partner with healthcare anchors to achieve both health and community development goals. The authors describe collaborations around the country which have helped create ageing-in-place programs for low-income seniors, public housing renovations, and employer assisted housing programs. Examining community health needs assessments (CHNA) is identified as the first step for organizations looking to pursue partnerships with nonprofit hospitals:

State legislatures attacking community wealth building

Municipal policies for inclusive local hiring shouldn’t be illegal

The eyes of the country turned this spring to North Carolina, where the state legislature passed the infamous HB2 “bathroom bill” in order to overturn the efforts of the Charlotte city council to make public bathrooms inclusive and safe for transgender individuals. HB2—with its extraordinarily broad attacks on LGBT individuals’ rights to equal protection under the law—has been roundly condemned by everyone from grassroots activists to some of our country’s largest corporations, not to mention federal leaders from the DOJ and the White House. Read more about State legislatures attacking community wealth building...

Slicing the Budget Pie for Big Business: How Three States Allocate Economic Development Dollars, Large Companies versus Small

Kasia Tarczynska, Thomas Cafcas and Greg LeRoy

The third in Good Jobs First’s recent series exploring whether state economic development programs are fair to small, local businesses continues to find bias in favor of large companies. The report analyzes state economic development spending in Florida, Missouri, and New Mexico and finds that on average 68 percent of spending goes towards large companies, more than triple the amount received by small businesses—despite the fact that small businesses are the primary driver of job growth. The report recommends that states develop more transparent subsidy award reporting and track how economic development dollars benefit small businesses specifically. The authors also recommend that states develop safeguards to ensure that incentives going to large companies result in public benefits commensurate with the subsidy.

Community Schools: Transforming Struggling Schools into Thriving Schools

Evie Frankl

With passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind, communities have the opportunity to direct the change they wish to see in their education systems. This new report from the Coalition for Community Schools, the Center for Popular Democracy, and the Southern Education Foundation profiles of 10 community schools across the country and outlines how this model can increase school attendance, decrease suspensions and expulsions, improve academic outcomes, and promote community health and well-being. The paper also outlines key strategies and mechanisms for implementation and includes resources to help codify community schools in policy.