Sprawling development patterns have had a direct impact on the neighborhoods that community development corporations (CDCs) seek to serve. While CDCs continue to work arduously to improve conditions for members of their communities, they are often swimming against a formidable tide that is pulling economic, social and political resources toward the fringes of their metropolitan areas. CDCs are not the only organizations concerned with the effects of job and population deconcentration on older parts of a region. Smart Growth advocates, also, seek to combat such patterns. They promote regional land-use planning, development around existing infrastructure, mixed-use and mixed-income development throughout the region, and investment in older-city and inner-suburban neighborhoods. The Smart Growth agenda has gained significant attention and political momentum in recent years. The rising importance of the Smart Growth agenda in shaping state and regional policy provides significant opportunities for CDCs to increase their impact, both from the more-focused perspective of production and organizational programming, as well as from the broader perspective of advocacy. In addition, CDCs have much to offer advocates of the Smart Growth agenda, particularly from the ways in which CDC development provides examples of Smart Growth production, from which Smart Growth advocates might learn.
This paper will identify the opportunities for CDCs to participate in the Smart Growth movement, and strategies they might employ to do so. This report seeks to explore one facet of how CDCs might facilitate the rebirth of cities, by examining the potential relationship between community development and Smart Growth.