(Re)vitalizing Inner-City Neighborhood Business Districts

Jeffrey Morgan

W12-1: Stabilization and regeneration of neighborhood business districts (NBDs) creates positive conditions for neighborhood life, including improved access to goods and services, greater social and political connectivity, and improved property values. In addition, it contributes to resident wealth-building by fostering local retail entrepreneurialism. Community development corporations (CDCs), though well positioned for the work of NBD revitalization, have achieved limited success. This reflects a need to pursue effective action and best practices in four core domains rarely found in a single organization: (1) commercial real estate development, (2) business funding, (3) business development and (4) business district organizing and improvement. This report considers an integrated approach to NBD revitalization using the CDC as a base of operation, drawing upon the CDCs’ existing strengths and developing the additional core capacities needed either internally or through partnering to maximize the potential for effective revitalization, transformation and long-term success of neighborhood business districts. In addition, this report provides an assessment framework and initial decision-making process for CDCs to use in considering whether to pursue this area of economic development work, determining the capacity needed for effective action and assessing the potential and opportunity for success.