Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Ripple Effect - Targeting Community Investments

The S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association had a significant meeting this week. Deputy Mayor, Carl Malysz, was the guest speaker at our monthly meeting. What transpired was over two hours of productive discussion. The event was covered by the Tribune and the full story can be read here.

Getting quoted in the paper is always an interesting experience for me. Context is quite important when only one or two sentences are put in print. While I believe that reporter Daniel Suddeath did a fine job, I do want to add clarification to a couple of my quotes.

“Fulmore said a concentrated strategy is the best way to deal with code issues and it has been proven to work in other cities.”

If you have limited resources – money and manpower – then yes, concentrating on specific areas is a good idea. When I referenced other cities, I was referring to Richmond, Virginia and their Neighborhoods in Bloom policy – “directing public and nonprofit funds investments to specific neighborhoods with the aim of attracting and sustaining additional private capital.”

Click and read this document for the full story. It lays out how Targeted Community Investment has worked and been successful there.

“I believe that if everyone is patient and we set realistic expectations, we can accomplish much through this new collaboration,” Fulmore said.

My point is that code enforcement is but one part of the effort to revitalize a neighborhood. There should be no expectation that by itself, it will create a neighborhood of choice. If we are going to target code enforcement in one area, then developing complementary strategies is crucial.

Additional strategies were bounced around during the meeting including a program to acquire blighted properties, rehab and sell homes. Creating an image building campaign, branding New Albany as “Insert your catchy phrase here”. Focusing emergency home repair funds (a project already being planned). And there was more.

I’ll be revisiting these topics frequently in the coming weeks. There’s some momentum being gained and reason for optimism.

Further Reading and Reference:

Neighborhoods in Bloom website

The Ripple Effect – Economic Impacts of Targeted Community Investments

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