New State & Local Policies

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.

Fostering the Power of Universities and Hospitals for Community Change

New federal policy strategies can help cities leverage the economic might of their anchor institutions to benefit communities

Crossposted from blog - a project of the Half in Ten Education Fund, a project of the Center for American Progress.

Communities across the country are recognizing the tremendous resources nonprofit anchor institutions—such as hospitals and universities—can provide as engines of inclusive and equitable economic development. Increasingly, cities—often led by Mayors—are launching comprehensive strategies to leverage these institutions to address challenging problems of unemployment, poverty, and disinvestment. In 2014, several cities, including Chicago, Baltimore and New Orleans, have launched community building and job creation strategies that revolve around anchor institutions; and in Cleveland, a decade old collaboration of philanthropy, anchor institutions, and the municipal government continues to rebuild economies in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.

Sustainable Communities: Creating a Durable Economy

Bruce Seifer
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Communities & Banking Journal

In the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Communities & Banking Journal, localist Bruce Seifer presents an excerpt from his new book that describes the shift in Burlington, Vermont's economic development strategy from one that seeks corporate subsidies to one based on building local entrepreneurship. Seifer gives an overview of the city's long-term economic vision and describes the city's efforts to convert business into employee-owned companies and to provide technical assistance to locally owned firms.

The Rise of the Corporate Landlord

Desiree Fields, Rachel Laforest, Tony Romano, Tony Roshan Samara and Rob Call
Right To The City Alliance

This new report from The Right to the City Alliance’s Homes for All Campaign examines how large, well capitalized, private equity firms, entering rental markets create the risk of a second housing bubble. The author, urban geographer Desiree Fields, demonstrates that the institutionalization of the single-family rental market benefits the same financial institutions behind the housing market crash of 2008, while disproportionately impacting low-income communities. She lays out a policy agenda that can promote greater diversity and broaden ownership of land and housing. 

Bank on Los Angeles

Launched in 2008 as a joint effort of the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Mayor, the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, local financial institutions and community-based organizations, Bank on Los Angeles aims to connect Los Angeles’ unbanked and under-banked populations to low-cost financial products and services and expand access to financial education.  To do so, participating banks and credit unions created low and no-cost products targeted toward first-time and “second chance” clients, expanded outreach strategies in low-income neighborhoods, and developed community-focused financial management training.  Participating community-based groups added financial education, free tax preparation, and other asset building programs to their program offerings.  To date, Bank on Los Angeles is credited with helping to open over 56,500 bank accounts.

Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)

Founded in 1996, SAJE aims to make Los Angeles a happier, more just place.  To do so, it focuses on changing public and corporate policies in ways that can provide concrete economic benefit to working-class people, increase the economic rights of the working class, and build leadership through a movement for economic justice.  Its achievements include the first-of-its-kind Community Benefits Agreement with Anschutz Entertainment Group (i.e., the owner of Staples Center and L.A. Live), which stipulated the hiring of neighborhood residents at a living wage, and the conviction of a record number of slumlords in partnership with the City Attorney.  SAJE also runs the Figueroa Corridor Community Jobs Program, which provides low-income community residents with training in the hospitality industry and building trades and helps ensure they can access better jobs with higher wages.  Since 2004, the program has assisted over 600 local residents.

Responsible Banking Ordinance

In 2012, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a "responsible banking" ordinance that requires banks doing business with the city to disclose detailed data on loans and foreclosure activity by community.  With $30 billion in assets, $6 billion in deposits and pension funds, and about 45 contracts with financial institutions, the City expects the ordinance to encourage banks to increase their lending and other services to city residents, particularly those in low-income communities. Read more about Responsible Banking Ordinance...

Local policies for building community wealth

John Duda
We need to move beyond ‘projects’ and towards policies that help build and sustain community wealth, says John Duda of the Democracy Collaborative

Clandestine Corporate Subsidies Undermine Community Participation in Local Economic Development

Nevada attracts Tesla Motors factory, risking $1.3 billion in community-sustaining tax investments

Last week, the Nevada legislature approved $1.25 billion in tax breaks for Tesla Motors to establish a  lithium battery "Gigafatory” for electric cars. Read more about Clandestine Corporate Subsidies Undermine Community Participation in Local Economic Development...

Policies for Community Wealth Building: Leveraging State and Local Resources

The Democracy Collaborative

Fostering resilient communities and building wealth in today’s local economies is necessary to achieve individual, regional, and national economic security. A community wealth building strategy employs a range of forms of community ownership and asset building strategies to build wealth in low-income communities. In so doing, community wealth building bolsters the ability of communities and individuals to increase asset ownership, anchor jobs locally, expand the provision of public services, and ensure local economic stability. 

America Has a Scary Sewage Problem: Let's Clean It Up and Jumpstart the Economy While We're At It

Gar Alperovitz

The problem is simple, surprising, and quite honestly disgusting: Our nation’s older cities depend largely on sewage treatment systems that overflow when it rains, dumping 860 billion gallons of raw sewage a year into “fresh” water across the country—enough to cover the entire state of Pennsylvania an inch deep.

But the stormwater crisis is also a tremendous opportunity to move in the direction of a new, community sustaining local economy.