Asset Based Community Development fuels growth and jobs

The concept of Asset Based Community Development is one that was spawned from redeveloping blighted areas around a community asset, be it a school, library, church or landmark. For example, a school is more than a place to educate kids; it becomes a community center for after school and evening programs. When the school becomes run down, the surrounding community usually does as well.

Yet, the concept very much applies to redeveloping towns, cities, regions and other venues and has for some time. When New York City subways were a haven for crime back in the 1970s, the city began a daily occurrence of repainting over graffiti. When people saw this, crime diminished as the belief was if the City cares this much about graffiti, they will care also about crime.  The subway was an asset that had to be redeveloped and maintained.

If used wisely assets that have been redeveloped or nourished can create avenues for renewal and growth. In Greenville, South Carolina, the downtown area was revitalized around its assets which include the Reedy River Falls. Now, downtown Greenville is a wonderful and quaint venue for tourism and business. In Durham, North Carolina, the run down American Tobacco Campus has been revitalized into a place of innovative business, housing and restaurant venues. The new ball park and performing arts center round out an attractive area of Durham replenishing a previously uninviting downtown.

In Richmond, Virginia, an old train terminal has been converted into a wonderful children’s science discovery museum. This has been part of a refocus in downtown Richmond building off its unique history to make the downtown area an inviting part of an area of discovery. In Atlanta, the areas around CNN have been revitalized with the new aquarium and Coca-Cola museum, and the area around the refurbished East Lake Golf Club was redeveloped with golf club as a centerpiece for jobs, housing development and education.

Charlotte, North Carolina borrowed from Durham’s success to revitalize an area of downtown to build a beautiful new baseball stadium across the street from a new park honoring the artist Romare Bearden. This is dovetailed by other building projects that continue to renovate downtown which had been started in the mid-1990s.

Yet, the greatest success in North Carolina is Research Triangle Park (RTP) which came to fruition back in the early 1960s. Sitting between three high-caliber universities (Duke, UNC and NC State), a park devoted to research, marketing and leadership was created that attracted new business. The area, cities and universities have thrived under the RTP vision which is being revitalized as we speak. Durham’s success above is a key part of the RTP revitalization efforts and Raleigh was just voted the best place for growth in the country.

I mention this today, as we lose sight of the value that co-investment in maintaining, refurbishing or reconstituting existing assets means for a community. These are just a few examples of the partnership between private and public money that has made our country what it is today. When we speak of cutting expenses, as we should consider, we need to know that we should also be investing and spending in other areas where growth and job creation can occur. So, across the board cuts are unwise, as in some places we should spend more. We should recognize our assets (or strengths) and leverage them as much as possible. If we don’t, it is opportunity lost.

4 thoughts on “Asset Based Community Development fuels growth and jobs

  1. This new mentality of money must solely be taken out of projects, companies, or local areas, instead of re-investing in training, schools, or well thought out revitalization is contributing to the downfall of this country, and the death of our future. Very well thought out and written blog, and your examples are wonderful. Good job!

    • Thanks Barney. In NC, our General Assembly decided to eliminate a tax credit for redeveloping historic sites which has fueled additive GDP to the tune of $124 million per annum along with the jobs that creates. This tax credit helped fuel the Durham example I mention. As you know from business, expenses are not equal nor are investments, so you trim fat and invest in muscle.

  2. Reblogged this on Scotties Toy Box and commented:
    Hello Keith one of the most frustrating things for both the economy and environment is the idea of disposable buildings. There are new buildings being build every where yet there are also abandoned buildings also everywhere. It seems developers and construction companies get much more profit from building a new structure than repurposing or renovating an older one. I think this is driving all costs up and who is paying for the old abandoned buildings. The Florida landscape is filled with them. Hugs

    • Scottie, thanks for the reblog. You are so right. Developers overbuilt malls, indoor and outdoor, even before the online buying took off. Then, you have these closed manufacturing plants. Repurposing them keeps (or revives) communities and micro-economies. Government funding of these efforts to leverage private investment has a multiplicative effect. Keith

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