Whether you're an elected official or a full-time local government employee, your mission is to improve your community. Promises made on the campaign trail or goals included in a department’s strategic plan should eventually be fulfilled; however, we must all acknowledge that having a vision and realizing that vision can sometimes be light years apart. In this blog article, I’ll give you glimpses into communities that have funded community improvement visions.
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds for Community Improvement
The City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce—in partnership with the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy and The Merchants Fund—launched ReStore and InStore grant programs to encourage business development and expansion in the city’s neighborhood commercial corridors. These programs help eligible retail, food, and creative businesses expand or make interior improvements.
The City of Los Angeles uses a portion of its Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 108 loan funds (under its CDBG allocation) to fund its Small Business Loan Program. The program provides financing to viable small businesses that private lenders cannot accommodate. Loan funds can be used for reasonable and eligible business operation costs, including inventory, equipment, working capital, and leaseholder improvements. Keep in mind that the recipients of these loans generate payroll and keep dollars in the community for continued community and economic improvement.
Using Private Sector Partners to Fund Community Improvement
The City of Atlanta has connected with private sector partners via Invest Atlanta, a State of Georgia-registered local government authority. Invest Atlanta is a public body corporate and politic of the State of Georgia and an instrumentality (an agent) of the City of Atlanta and is able to receive charitable donations. Invest Atlanta’s programs and initiatives focus on developing and fostering public-private partnerships to accelerate job creation/economic growth, neighborhood revitalization/investment, and innovation/entrepreneurship. There are eight major economic development partners representing public and private sectors throughout metro Atlanta.
Pilesgrove Township in Salem County, New Jersey, is the site of the Panda Pilesgrove Farm Project. In October of 2011, Panda Power Funds and New York ConEdison Development completed construction on a 20-MW photovoltaic (PV) solar farm located in the township. The Pilesgrove Project is one of the largest solar farms in the northeast United States. Located on 134 acres with more than 77,000 solar panels, the solar farm is a model of private sector investment that boosts local and regional revenue.
What You Can Do
This blog article is just the tip of the iceberg for ideas to discuss in your community. There are many more ways to fund community improvements—from government grant programs to foundation grants to corporate partners leveraging combined resources. Ask yourself these questions now:
- What was the vision for this community when I was elected to or accepted this position?
- What have I done to make this vision a reality?
- What human resources do I need to make this vision a reality?
Welcome to FY 2016
For most state and local governments across the nation, the new fiscal year begins today, July 1. Help give you and your team strong grants management footing by sharing the following free template with your finance folks: