Our 2020 report, Reflecting Community Priorities in Economic Development Practices, describes how state and local governments can adapt economic development programs to be more responsive to resident needs. The associated presentation, Fostering Resident-Centric Economic Developmentboils down the lessons learned from four in-depth case studies and other community efforts across the country.

Two of the case study cities from that work have made important progress on their initiatives. 

In Portland, OR, the City Council approved creation of the Cully Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District after “a four-year process that centered historically underserved, marginalized, and underrepresented community voices.” The TIF will be administered under the guidance of the Community Leadership Committee. Prosper Portland explains that the objective is to ensure TIF funds are focused on benefiting the people who have historically been displaced by urban renewal projects. Initiatives will focus on safe and affordable housing, thriving Black, Indigenous, and People of color (BIPOC) owned businesses, good employment opportunities, transportation and parks, and climate resiliency. 

In Atlanta, GA, Invest Atlanta is reporting on the objectives connected to the City of Atlanta’s Economic Mobility, Recovery & Resiliency Plan. This plan addresses how Invest Atlanta will prioritize economic mobility for city residents and “narrow the divide that so often falls along racial and geographic lines.” The Invest Atlanta website provides impact insights related to the creation of good jobs (especially those that are accessible to residents including those from disinvested communities), access to good jobs (career advancement through training), support for local small businesses, neighborhood investment, and affordable housing commitments. For example, 2021 and 2022 saw:

  • $10.4 million in small business grants and loans and support for 736 small businesses, 86% of which were woman- and/or minority-owned
  • $882 million total capital investment in disinvested neighborhoods, representing 46% of total capital investment
  • 3,244 affordable units created and 220 homeowners supported through Invest Atlanta programs

Their progress demonstrates the value of the Determine-Design-Evaluate framework described in the report and case studies. 

  1. Determine priorities through a commitment to better, more inclusive community engagement practices that are built around listening, learning and trust.
  2. Design responsive programs that recognize the need for interconnected, long-term strategies and commit appropriate resources.
  3. Evaluate with community priorities in mind and be accountable to residents. 

Economic development that is equitable, inclusive, and outcome-driven for residents begins by prioritizing community engagement and clearly linking that engagement to actionable initiatives with measurable results. 

Source: Reflecting Community Priorities in Economic Development Practices