New State & Local Policies

Inequality’s Dead End—And the Possibility of a New, Long-Term Direction

Gar Alperovitz
Nonprofit Quarterly

It is easy to be distracted by what passes for economic news these days, focused as it is on short-term fluctuations and assurances of recovery and revitalization. The simple truth, however, is that year by year, decade by decade, life in the United States is steadily growing ever more unequal.

Excluded from the Financial Mainstream: How the Economic Recovery is Bypassing Millions of Americans

Jennifer Brooks, Kasey Wiedrich, Lebaron Sims, Jr. and Solana Rice
Findings from the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard

One in five households regularly rely on fringe financial services to meet their needs. Nationally, 55.6 percent of consumers have subprime credit scores, meaning they cannot qualify for credit or financing at prime rates. In its 2015 Asset and Opportunity Scorecard, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) describes these and other difficulties faced by many Americans and breaks down disparities by race and state. The report also outlines how a combination of state policies such as protections against predatory lending and the establishment of housing trust funds can help families achieve economic security.

New Orleans Lot Maintenance Program

Launched in 2013 and expanded in August 2014, Mayor Mitchell Landrieu’s Lot Maintenance Program aims to eliminate blighted properties while creating employment opportunities for neighborhood residents.  To do so, the program has partnered with Covenant House’s White Dove Landscaping program, a social enterprise that will train at-risk youth and other hard-to-employ populations to clean up about 100 overgrown lots a month.  As of September 2014, the program cleared 1,000 lots and aimed to complete 9,000 grass cuttings over the next year. Read more about New Orleans Lot Maintenance Program...

New Orleans Economic Opportunity Strategy

Launched in September 2014, Mayor Mitchell Landrieu’s Economic Opportunity Strategy aims to recruit, train and connect the city’s hardest to employ residents to jobs and match local businesses to opportunities for growth.  The strategy hinges on leveraging the city’s anchor institutions: the City plans to establish a collaborative of local anchor institutions committed to expanding economic opportunity, form a workforce intermediary that connects disadvantaged job seekers to employment opportunities through anchor institutions, create a procurement intermediary that connects businesses to Read more about New Orleans Economic Opportunity Strategy...

Sustainable Oakland

The Sustainable Oakland program aims to help Oakland become a more sustainably city, in which all people have the opportunity to live safe, happy, healthy and fulfilling lives, now and into the future.  The program focuses on catalyzing collaborative approaches to improve Oakland’s sustainability performance, and tracking and reporting on its progress.  One current collaborative initiative is Oakland Shines, which helps businesses manage energy costs by offering free technical assistance and cash rebates to eliminate or defray the cost of installing energy efficient equipment.  The city al Read more about Sustainable Oakland...

Oakland Green Jobs Corps

Considered a national model for urban, green-collar job training, the Oakland Green Jobs Corps is one of the first U.S. initiatives designed to help disadvantaged community residents transition to green careers.  Launched in 2008 in collaboration with the Ella Baker Center and other local nonprofit groups, the initiative provides college-credited training in green construction, solar installation and energy audit, followed by paid, on-the-job training and full-time employment.  The program has about 125 graduates per year and a 70 percent job placement rate. Read more about Oakland Green Jobs Corps...

Local and Small Business Enterprise Program

Updated in 2011, Oakland’s Local and Small Business Enterprise Program aims to provide economic opportunity for all residents and businesses, stimulate economic development, and nurture a stronger, local economic base.  The program specifies requirements for the city’s contracting and purchasing, which include a 50 percent minimum participation rate of local firms in all construction contracts over $100,000 and all professional services contracts over $50,000; preference points and bid discounts to emerging and start-up businesses, and businesses employing Oakland residents and new hires; Read more about Local and Small Business Enterprise Program...

Economic Analysis Of Detroit’s Food System

Econsult Solutions, Inc. and Urbane Development, LLC

The food economy in Detroit is already the city’s third largest economic sector, and is poised to be the next largest growth sector for the city, note Econsult Solutions, Inc. and Urbane Development in a report written on behalf of The Detroit Food and Fitness Collaborative. In their report, the authors outline several strategies to foster equitable growth, including connecting local, small-scale food producers and manufactures to anchor institution demand. Only by engaging Detroiters and supporting the local, small, and medium sized actors in the system, the report argues, will food sector growth be effective in creating jobs and building community wealth for Detroit residents. 

City Halls Help Plant Seeds for Community Co-ops

What do Austin, New York City and Denver have in common? All three cities voted to support the development of cooperatives for the first time this year.

Crossposted from Rooflines, The Shelterforce blog.

What do Austin, New York City and Denver have in common? All three cities voted to support the development of cooperatives for the first time this year. The amounts are modest, but the trend is clear—mayors and economic development leaders are beginning to add cooperatives and community wealth building to the economic development toolbox. Read more about City Halls Help Plant Seeds for Community Co-ops...

Local First Milwaukee

Established in 2006 by a group of independent business owners aiming to make Milwaukee a more sustainable community, Local First Milwaukee is a business alliance comprised of more than 250 of Milwaukee’s independent, locally-owned businesses and nonprofit organizations. Business members must live and work within the metropolitan Milwaukee area, participate in community activities, and assist local charities. Read more about Local First Milwaukee...

Milwaukee Opportunities Restoring Employment (M.O.R.E.) Ordinance

Adopted in 2009, the Milwaukee Opportunities Restoring Employment (M.O.R.E.) Ordinance aims to support local businesses and ensure City development projects receiving more than $1 million in government assistance create jobs for Milwaukee residents. Read more about Milwaukee Opportunities Restoring Employment (M.O.R.E.) Ordinance...

HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee

Launched by Mayor Tom Barrett and led by the City's Office of Environmental Sustainability, HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee helps residents repurpose foreclosed properties for community assets that spark new economic opportunities around local, healthy food production and distribution. To do so, the initiative works within City government to streamline processes, permitting and ordinances to facilitate new food-based entrepreneurship and vacant lot re-purposing, and within community food systems to link local growers to local markets. In 2014, the initiative aims to improve 42 vacant lots. Read more about HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee...

ReFresh Milwaukee

Published in July of 2013 after an 18-month planning process that engaged residents, nonprofits, businesses, civic organizations and city government, ReFresh Milwaukee is Milwaukee’s first sustainability plan, providing a 10-year, citywide roadmap for improving the environmental, economic and social conditions of Milwaukee's neighborhoods. The plan sets concrete goals and targets for individuals and organizations to achieve in eight issue areas: buildings, energy, food, human capital, land and urban ecosystems, mobility, resource recovery and water. Read more about ReFresh Milwaukee...

Eds, Meds, and the Feds How the Federal Government Can Foster the Role of Anchor Institutions in Community Revitalization

Tracey Ross
Recognizing that anchor institutions are the largest employers in 66 of the nation’s 100 largest cities, mayors across the nation are working with universities and nonprofit hospitals to foster economic growth in disinvested communities. In this new report from the Center for American Progress, author Tracey Ross explores how federal officials can further enhance the role of such anchor institutions in promoting community economic development. She recommends the use of a framework based on The Democracy Collaborative’s Anchor Dashboard to hold anchor institutions accountable and to help illustrate to Congress and other stakeholders the extent of their impact in communities.