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New State & Local Policies

Municipal leaders share visions for cities that build community wealth

A report from our gathering at the CUNY School of Law

How can cities redeploy their economic development resources to focus on building a more inclusive economy grounded in broad, local ownership?  How can policymakers get strategies like worker cooperative development the support and resources needed to reach truly meaningful scale? How can collaborations between communities, local government, and key institutional stakeholders build pathways to economic equity for the people left behind by the traditional trickle-down economic playbook? Read more about Municipal leaders share visions for cities that build community wealth...

City governments building community wealth and cooperative local economies

Exciting news from Jacksonville, Florida, New York City, Austin, Texas and Richmond, Virginia

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of impressive activity at the level of city government, all around policies designed to build community wealth and encourage the growth of cooperative local economies. It's encouraging to see that the work of grassroots developers, local foundations, community activists, and field builders (like ourselves here at the Democracy Collaborative) is beginning to gain a foothold in the world of municipal policy. Read more about City governments building community wealth and cooperative local economies ...

Leveling the Playing Field in City Contracting

Oscar Perry
Next City

Oscar Perry, writing for Next City, highlights the work of the Democracy Collaborative in "Leveling the Playing Field in City Contracting." In this long form piece, Perry writes about why New York City has doubled their contracts with women-and-minority-owned firm. As well as, the work of Democracy Collaborative's thought leadership, direction, and work with anchor instutitons through the Healthcare Anchor Network: 

Corporations and anchor institutions like hospitals and universities are stepping up MWBE contracting commitments and programs, too. The Democracy Collaborative, a nonprofit that does research and builds leadership around equitable, inclusive and sustainable development, has been working with anchor institutions to support more diverse contracting through the lens of building stronger local economies. In January 2017, it formed the Healthcare Anchor Network, consisting of 30 healthcare systems nationwide.

“Healthcare systems are recognizing the need for intentionality to overcome the history of discrimination,” says David Zuckerman, who manages the network. Yet such programs remain in danger of going away when there’s a leadership change, he notes.

“If you can institutionalize it, and build it into your strategic plan, that’s what’s powerful,” he says. “We’re not there yet, but I think in the next year we’re going to see more health systems build this local impact work into their strategic plans.”

One way to institutionalize it: Make it someone’s job.

“There might be an official statement that ‘we’re going to prioritize the effort to increase our spend to MWBEs,’ but it’s not any one person’s job, it’s something extra,” Zuckerman says.

Read more in Next City

“Community Wealth Building” on the rise in city governments

Glass office door with "Office of Community Wealth Building" lettered

When the city government of Richmond, Virginia, established the country’s first Office of Community Wealth Building in 2014 , we were pretty excited here at The Democracy Collaborative, and not only because University of Richmond professor Thad Williamson, our former colleague and co-author, with our co-founder Gar Alperovitz, of Making a Place for Community, had been tapped to set up the office. It was also an important milestone for our work as advocates for “community wealth building.” Using this name for an office within a city government represented a new level of engagement with the idea that a new approach—focused on cross-sector collaboration and the use of local assets to catalyze opportunities for broad-based ownership, with an intentional orientation towards inclusive development rather than the failed promises of trickle-down strategies—was necessary if cities were going to really tackle persistent place-based poverty. Read more about “Community Wealth Building” on the rise in city governments...

Highlights from our Cities Building Community Wealth convening

There's a movement building in cities across the country to reinvent economic development with a new focus on community wealth. Earlier this year, with the help of the Community and Economic Development Clinic at the CUNY School of Law and the Surdna Foundation, we hosted a daylong conversation with leaders from city governments and community-based organizations to explore this emerging movement—here's a short video highlighting the key insights and inspiring takeaways from the gathering. Read more about Highlights from our Cities Building Community Wealth convening...

"Building Community Wealth" Forum featuring Sarah McKinley

In partnership with Northland College's Center for Rural Communities and WITC, a League Forum features Sarah McKinley, Manager of Community Development Programs at the Democracy Collaborative. She presents on her research and travels around the US visiting cities who noted for their innovative strategies resulting in growing more prosperous local communities.
Read more about "Building Community Wealth" Forum featuring Sarah McKinley...

Community wealth building: America’s emerging asset based approach to city economic development

Marjorie Kelly, Sarah McKinley and Violeta Duncan
Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy

Across the United States a growing number of communities are experimenting with innovative ways to create a more equal, democratic, and community-based economy from the ground up. Our Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly, Manager of Community Development Programs Sarah McKinley, and Research Associate Violeta Duncan co-write a piece for the Renewal Journal on how we can use a "politics of place" and "politics for places" to uplift communities across the country and world:

State legislatures attacking community wealth building

Municipal policies for inclusive local hiring shouldn’t be illegal

The eyes of the country turned this spring to North Carolina, where the state legislature passed the infamous HB2 “bathroom bill” in order to overturn the efforts of the Charlotte city council to make public bathrooms inclusive and safe for transgender individuals. HB2—with its extraordinarily broad attacks on LGBT individuals’ rights to equal protection under the law—has been roundly condemned by everyone from grassroots activists to some of our country’s largest corporations, not to mention federal leaders from the DOJ and the White House. Read more about State legislatures attacking community wealth building...

Mayor: Worker co-ops can curb poverty

David Riley
Democrat & Chronicle

After working for over a year with City officials behind the scenes on a plan to build community wealth in Rochester, members of the Democracy Collaborative Jessica Bonnano and Vie Duncan have shown the Rochester mayor and other leaders in economic development there that supporting worker cooperatives is a strategy that could uplift the city.

Panel: Can Inclusive Economic Development Build Better Jobs and a Stronger Regional Economy?

January 27th, 2016
The Aspen Institute, One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036

On Wednesday, January 27, 2016, Washington, D.C. from 12:00-1:30pm, our Executive Vice President and a Senior Fellow, Marjorie Kelly, will speak on a panel alongside Richmond, Virginia Mayor Dwight C. Jones, and Sociologist and Fellow at The Worker Institute at Cornell, Sanjay Pinto. The discussion, part of The Aspen Institute's Working in America series, will be moderated by MSNBC's Dorian T. Warren, a Roosevelt Institute Fellow. Read more about Panel: Can Inclusive Economic Development Build Better Jobs and a Stronger Regional Economy?...

A City with Opportunities for All: Toronto, Canada

A municipal strategy to reduce urban poverty addresses the roots of inequality

Like many major metropolitan areas in the United States, Toronto is experiencing fast-paced growth. Canada's finance and business capital has more cranes in the sky than New York City—with nearly 50 percent more high-rises undergoing construction than in the big apple. Read more about A City with Opportunities for All: Toronto, Canada...

Cities Building Community Wealth

Marjorie Kelly and Sarah McKinley

In an era of persistent urban inequality and chronic unemployment disproportionately impacting historically marginalized communities and communities of color, new alternatives to the traditional economic development strategies that have failed to bring broad and evenly distributed prosperity to America's cities are clearly needed.

From New York to Oakland, CA, city governments support worker coops

New developments in expanding local legislation and funding towards worker cooperatives
Municipal involvement in worker cooperative development

On Thursday, September 24th, the Pope will address the U.S. Congress for the first time in history. Perhaps he will speak about building democracy, growing the economy, or increasing equality— and a mention of worker cooperatives could serve as a unifying theme. Read more about From New York to Oakland, CA, city governments support worker coops...

Inequality’s Dead End—And the Possibility of a New, Long-Term Direction

Gar Alperovitz
Nonprofit Quarterly

It is easy to be distracted by what passes for economic news these days, focused as it is on short-term fluctuations and assurances of recovery and revitalization. The simple truth, however, is that year by year, decade by decade, life in the United States is steadily growing ever more unequal.

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