In this Issue...

July 01, 2010
By  Allen North

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time with our Community Development Advisory Council (CDAC) in Memphis. This group of community development practitioners from a variety of disciplines meets twice a year and helps to inform our community development staff about the challenges and opportunities the current climate brings to the community development industry.

At every meeting, the Council highlights a member so others learn more about specific work in an individual sector or region. Emily Trenholm, executive director of the Community Development Council of Greater Memphis, gave an insightful presentation before the topical discussion of the day began. Her organization, a trade association for community development corporations (CDCs), offers capacity-building programs and public policy advocacy. She shared with the group the state of Memphis CDCs and the local response to the current climate. Her experience is consistent with themes we see on the national level. Essentially:

  • The current crisis has required us to rethink community development, resulting in a trend toward holistic approaches, which involves all aspects of sustainable community development, such as housing, transportation, education and workforce planning.
  • Nonprofits are evaluating their missions, programs and the way they do business, identifying what works and what doesn’t.
  • Nonprofits are looking to innovation and technology for new successes, and are taking steps to improve their business models by enhancing risk management and looking for ways to look more attractive to potential partners.

I appreciated Emily’s insight, and what a timely message she brought.

Recognizing the huge role the nonprofit community has played and continues to play in the community development industry, this issue of Bridges focuses on nonprofit capacity building. The cover story provides highlights of the recent “Restructuring and Retooling for the Future” videoconference our district held in April. Also in this issue, you will read how several nonprofit organizations have used various strategies to not only survive, but sometimes thrive, including pursuing collaborations and mergers, strengthening business practices, and employing social media and technology. Finally, we offer some new trends in capacity building training and training opportunities across the district.

Bridges is a regular review of regional community and economic development issues. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the St. Louis Fed or Federal Reserve System.

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