Cities Building Community Wealth

Democracy Collaborative

Author +
Marjorie Kelly, Sarah McKinley

Year: 2015

In cities across the nation, a few enjoy rising affluence while many struggle to get by. This situation is created in part by the practices of traditional economic development. Current trends threaten to worsen, unless we can answer the design challenge before us. Can we create an economic system—beginning at the local level—that builds the wealth and prosperity of everyone?

The cities profiled in this new Democracy Collaborative report show the way forward. Economic development professionals and mayors are working in partnership with foundations, anchor institutions, unions, community organizations, progressive business networks, workers, and community residents. What’s emerging is a systems approach to creating an inclusive, sustainable economy where all can thrive. The work is place-based, fed by the power of anchor institutions, and built on locally rooted and broadly held ownership. It’s about building community wealth.

Cities Building Community Wealth is available as a free PDF download; if you’d like to order printed copies, either for yourself or to distribute to local elected officials and community stakeholders.

Table of Contents

Welcome, by Ted Howard
Preface, by Shawn Escoffery
Summary and Introduction
The design challenge before us
The drivers of community wealth building
A powerful alternative to development as usual
Two approaches to economic development
The seeds of a new community-based economy
Part I: Defining the New Approach
The Seven Drivers of Community Wealth Building
The power of common language
Defining community wealth building
Seven drivers that build community wealth
Part II: Why Change
The Seven Drivers of Traditional Economic Development
Signs of progress, and retreat
Benefits of adding community wealth drivers
Currents of failure
The incentives wars
The seven drivers of traditional economic development
Part III: Why Now
A Historic Moment
A new wave of progressive mayors
Capital flight and the limited city
A third force in municipal economic development
The seedbed of a new progressive movement
A desperate need for alternatives
Part IV: How to Do It
Six Strategies for Building Community Wealth
Anchor procurement strategies
Financing strategies
Enterprise development and retention strategies
Land and real estate strategies
Ecological resilience strategies
Workforce development strategies
Getting started
Part V: Where It’s Headed
Going to Scale or Remaining Marginal
Challenges of this work
Opportunities at hand
Design for catalyzing the new paradigm
How community wealth building can fail, and how it can succeed
A need to come together as never before
Part VI: Twenty Cities Building Community Wealth
Austin, TX.
Boston, MA.
Burlington, VT.
Chicago, IL.
Cleveland, OH.
Denver, CO.
Kansas City, MO.
Keene, NH.
Madison WI.
Minneapolis, MN.
Newark, NJ.
New Orleans, LA.
New York, NY.
Oakland, CA.
Philadelphia, PA.
Pittsburgh, PA.
Portland, OR.
Richmond, VA.
Rochester, NY.
Seattle, WA.
Interviews Conducted