All-In Cities: The Power of Cross-City Learning

Last month, I traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the Mayors Innovation Project Summer Annual Meeting, hosted by Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. The summer meetings serve as an opportunity for mayors and their staff to learn about promising practices happening in other cities, and to dive into important issues from green infrastructure to smart city technology. I joined as part of a panel on equitable economic development, presenting a framework and best practices for ensuring the benefits of growth are widely shared, particularly among low-income communities and communities of color. While each city had its own unique context, the conference underscored how people in every pocket of the country want the same things: affordable housing, strong schools, good jobs, and healthy and safe communities, among other issues. It is critical that we continue to foster the exchange of ideas and best practices, and harness the power of cross-city learning. Here's how we're doing just that:

  • NACEDA Summit September 12-14: PolicyLink will share its latest thinking and ideas at the 10th Anniversary Summit for the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations to be held in Philadelphia. The NACEDA Summit provides community development association professionals and their partners a chance to connect, share strategies, and strengthen their skills. Attendees will hear from PolicyLink President and CEO Michael McAfee who will deliver the keynote on strategies for building an equitable nation from the ground up. Alexis Stephens, senior communications associate, will be on a panel to discuss "Tapping Arts & Culture in Equitable Development," exploring how community development providers partner with arts and culture practitioners to promote and implement equitable development. James Crowder, senior associate, will be part of our session "All-In Cities: Transforming Policies and Systems to Promote Equitable Growth," along with All-In Cities partners Michael G. Johnson of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Beth McConnell of the Philadelphia Association of CDCs. For more information on the NACEDA Summit, you can visit their site here
  • American Prospect Interview: In last month's update, we highlighted our new engagement in Baltimore, as well as recent legislation in the city to advance a racial equity assessment and fund. I was interviewed by American Prospect to discuss this, as well as lessons from cities that have implemented the tool. You can read the article here.
  • Opportunity Zones: The Treasury Department is beginning to implement Opportunity Zones, a new tax incentive program billed as a way to connect private investment capital with low-income communities across the country. PolicyLink has developed a set of recommendations for ensuring this new initiative embodies equity and full inclusion for the most vulnerable. Cities, states, foundations, investors, and developers can use these principles to ensure equitable implementation and help prevent massive displacement pressures. We also encourage you to send your governor and/or the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury a letter to express why your organization advocates for Opportunity Zone funds to benefit low-income community residents. In an article for Next City, Chris Brown, financial policy director at PolicyLink, explained, "Low-income folks [are] struggling and barely holding on as it is, particularly in urban centers where displacement pressures are already mounting. [Opportunity Zones] can only exacerbate that risk, because now we're talking about a flow of unchecked capital without any proper guard rails."

Tracey Ross
Associate Director, All-In Cities Initiative