Where Would Philadelphia Be without CDCs?

A recent publication from the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC) got me thinking: where would Philadelphia be without its CDCs (Community Development Corporations)? And the answer, $3.3 billion poorer. This short but sweet, graphically attractive report “Collective Strength: the $3.3 Billion Impact of Philadelphia Community Development Corporations” (which actually summarizes a more-detailed  Econsult report completed earlier this year) found that over the past 20 years, Philly’s CDCs have contributed a local economic impact equivalent to $3.3 billion. This includes job creation, improved property values, and increased local tax revenue. This graphic sums it up beautifully:

Collective Strength Graphic

Source: PACDC

The report also found that the top three  investment areas that CDCs contribute to are: home construction & rehabilitation (72%), small business construction and rehabilitation (21%), and streetscape & vacant lot greening (7%). Although these all represent important contributions and areas where assistance and funding from the City has dropped off, I foresee an increasing role for CDCs in the areas of streetscape improvements, vacant land stabilization and green stormwater infrastructure implementation as Philadelphia continues to strive to implement an ambitious city-wide green stormwater program which will rely heavily on community investment and co-operation. CDCs are established and trusted figures in their service areas and have the potential to serve as promoters, managers and liaisons of green infrastructure projects that can help mitigate stormwater runoff and pollution, improve streetscapes (and therefore, commercial corridors), provide much needed green spaces in highly impervious neighborhoods and create educational opportunities around the urban water cycle for people of all ages.