An Overview of Community Development

Communities have the best chance to grow and prosper when a neighborhood’s residents and business owners work together to improve their community and increase their well-being.  This happens when a community identifies neighborhood assets – such as land, buildings, businesses, workforce and purchasing power – which become a base from which to organize and attract investment and increased economic activity.  The tangible results are civic engagement, better places to live, new and growing businesses, more employment and useful public spaces – in short, a community where everyone has an opportunity to prosper – goals shared by all Floridians.

The Florida Alliance of Community Development Corporations (FLACDC) is a statewide membership organization of community-based development corporations (CDCs), community housing development organizations (CHDOs), community action agencies (CAAs) and their partners and stakeholders.  Our mission is to lead Florida’s community development field and its partners in shaping strategies that advance community prosperity.  Our members work with their communities to develop existing assets and attract new ones.  As we are successful, the people who live there have greater opportunities to increase their own wealth and contribute to the well-being of the community as a whole.

Every community, rich and poor, has unmet opportunity.  Investments in older or disadvantaged neighborhoods may offer smaller or slower financial return, which make them less attractive to private developers.  Florida’s CDCs and other nonprofits specialize in putting opportunities in these areas to work by fostering broad public participation, engaging community members in planning and decision making on their own terms and in their shared interests.  As individual neighborhoods improve, they become attractive to new residents, new visitors, new businesses that create new jobs, and to new and stronger relationships with surrounding areas.  The result is an increase in regional as well as local prosperity and an increase in the region’s economic competitiveness.

Community Development is driven by opportunity.  How we work together with community residents and stakeholders to take advantage of the opportunities in our communities sets CDCs apart from their private development counterparts.  CDCs recognize that successful Community Development is Place-Based – occurring where the opportunities are; second, it must be Community-Driven – the residents and other stakeholders must participate in the process; third, the process needs to be Comprehensive to be successful- taking into account all aspects of the community – homes, businesses, schools, churches, colleges and universities and others; and finally, Community Development is Long-Term – everyone involved recognizing that it takes time to find the best opportunities and marshal the resources required to invest in them to obtain the desired results – a place where children get good educations, residents are safe, employment is plentiful and no one is left behind economically.

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