Local policies for building community wealth

CommunityWealthBuildingWe need to move beyond ‘projects’ and towards policies that help build and sustain community wealth, says John Duda of the Democracy Collaborative

At the Democracy Collaborative, we’re interested in finding ways to build community wealth at scale — that is, in finding ways to anchor capital, democratise ownership, and stabilise local economies to really make a difference in the lives of low-income communities that find themselves marginalised by the current paradigm of economic development.

Making this happen means thinking past ‘projects’. While it’s absolutely essential that projects like individual worker co-operatives exist, the promise they offer of a viable alternative can only be kept by creating the conditions that can help community-sustaining economic institutions multiply and thrive.

It’s with this in the mind that we wrote our latest report, Policies for Community Wealth Building: Leveraging State and Local Resources. Drawing on our work with municipal governments and local stakeholders on the ground in places like Cleveland, Ohio, and Jacksonville, Florida, as well as our larger work outlining more comprehensive state and federal level policy solutions, the report underscores the need for creative solutions to economic problems.

While our work is largely centered on the particular situations faced in the US, the basic principles behind our recommendations should be broadly applicable: we focus on measures that aim to leverage local resources — especially those that can keep capital anchored locally — and which aim to benefit those — like poor communities of colour — who have been historically excluded from or marginalised and exploited in the traditional economic process. Above all, however, we focus on what works, grounding both our immediately pragmatic and more aspirational recommendations in community wealth building tools which have been field-tested and proven effective.

Click on the next page for 4 Local Policies to Build Community Wealth: