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Economic Research

EconSouth masthead
Volume 15, Number 3
Third Quarter 2013


EconSouth Explores Innovations in Community Development

Image depicting human dataThe challenges facing the community development field are familiar, including tight resources and growing need. In "Innovative Strategies in Community Development," staff writer Lela Somoza explored some of the creative ways that community developers are finding to address those challenges.

Many of the strategies fall into three broad themes—taking a holistic approach to community development, collaborating to increase capacity and boost impact, and using data to drive good decision making, Somoza noted.

Atlanta's East Lake Community is a prime example of how a holistic approach can dramatically change a neighborhood. The dilapidated public housing development was a haven for crime and drugs, and the community suffered from failing schools and low employment, among other ills. Tom Cousins, a local philanthropist and real estate developer worked with residents, the local housing authority, and other stakeholders to address those problems simultaneously. Cousins' holistic approach combined quality mixed-income housing, cradle-to-college education, and supportive community facilities and services. Today, that model is being exported to other struggling communities across the nation through Purpose Built Communities, a nonprofit consultancy that Cousins started.

Community developers elsewhere in the Southeast are also adopting new approaches. The Florida Prosperity Partnership is bringing together community organizations, governments, and financial institutions to boost the financial well-being of Florida's households. And in southeastern Louisiana, the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center (GNOCDC) is using data to inform policy. According to GNOCDC senior research fellow George Hobor, good data "can help improve effectiveness and efficiency across all sectors."

To learn more about the innovative strategies in community development that are taking hold in the Southeast, read the full article in the third-quarter EconSouth, available in print and online.