Rebuilding America's Communities: A Comprehensive Community Wealth Building Federal Policy Proposal

April 27, 2010

From the report's introduction:

Fostering community wealth in today’s economy requires going beyond a traditional federal government “service delivery” mode of operation to develop programs that connect capital with low-income communities. Largely unnoticed in the media, over the past few decades, there has been a steady build-up of new forms of community-supportive economic enterprises.

Forty years ago, there were fewer than 200 employee-owned companies in the United States. The community development finance industry did not yet exist. Likewise, few community development corporations (CDCs) and no significant community land trusts existed. State public pension funds did not employ economically targeted investments.

Today, the National Center for Employee Ownership reports that 13.7 million Americans work at roughly 11,400 businesses where they own all or part of the company through employee stock option plans, with an ownership stake of $922 5 billion as of the end of 2006. There are now over 4,600 community development corporations (CDCs) nationwide that develop on average 86,000 units of affordable housing and 8.75 million square feet of commercial real estate a year. Between 1998 and 2005, CDC business development efforts helped create an estimated 527,000 jobs. Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) manage assets of over $25 billion. In 2006 these groups financed affordable housing for 69,000 housing units and helped create or maintain 35,000 jobs. More than half of all states now allocate a portion of their pension funds to economically targeted investments, which now total ten of billions of dollars. Additionally, older forms of community ownership continue to thrive: everything from the 2,000-plus publicly owned utility companies spanning the nation to a cooperative movement in which 130 million Americans participate, which has $3 trillion in assets, generates $650 billion in annual revenue, and employs over 850,000.
Read the rest of the report (.pdf) here...

Additional Information: 

community-wealth.org, a project of the Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland.