Community Development Corporations (CDC) are nonprofit corporations whose mission is to improve the quality of life in a specific geographical area. They are governed by a Board of Directors representing all parts of the community and are led by an executive director with experience in obtaining grants and using government programs to lift up neighborhoods. CDCs are commonly described as organizations pursuing a “double bottom line”: CDCs combine a social mission to help disadvantaged people and places with an economic mission to meet the demands of the marketplace and attract investors.
CDCs bring a number of strengths to the task of lifting up communities. CDCs are able to:
- Accept tax-deductible contributions and engage volunteers;
- Bring block-by-block local knowledge to the development process;
- Generate local buy-in for redevelopment plans through citizen engagement;
- Coordinate programs and services so they meet the real needs of the community;
- Bring expertise and professional knowledge to the task of community development, especially knowledge of real estate development;
- Build a sense of community among residents.
Spanish Lake with natural boundaries (I-270, Highway 367, and the Mississippi River) and a population of about 20,000, the community is an appropriate geography for a CDC – big enough to make a difference but still small enough to be a community. Spanish Lake needs an organization to help pull the community together around strategic community plans to stabilize and revitalize the area.
By Todd Swantrom, Des Lee Professor of Community Collaboration and Public Policy, Administration, University of Missouri – St. Louis (2014).