When I began my internship at NACEDA last month, I found it very hard to nail down a definition for community economic development. Oftentimes classmates or professors would ask me where I was interning this semester, and I struggled to give them a brief explanation of the field. Thankfully, I found this article written by Kate Lau Schaffner of NewsWorks that concisely explains the history and scope of community economic development.
What is a Community Development Corporation?
Community development corporations (CDCs) are 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that are created to support and revitalize communities, especially those that are impoverished or struggling. CDCs often deal with the development of affordable housing. They can also be involved in a wide range of community services that meet local needs such as education, job training, healthcare, commercial development, and other social programs.
While CDCs may work closely with a representative from the local government, they are not a government entity.
As non-profits, CDCs are tax-exempt and may receive funding from private and public sources.
CDCs run the gamut from large, well-established organizations like New Community Corporation in Newark, NJ (which owns and manages 2,000 units of housing and employs more than 500 people) to community groups that meet in a church basement. Large or small, CDCs have in common an involvement in development work. They generally have a staff and some degree of incorporation.