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A report released on September 29 by PPRC poses a question: "How can the St. Louis region build on its assets and create communities that work for everyone."
The answer could lie in the collaboration of region's many nonprofit community development corporations, according to "Creating Whole Communities: Enhancing the Capacity of Community Development Nonprofits in the St. Louis Region." Todd Swanstrom, the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of Community Collaboration and Public Policy Administration at UMSL, and Karl Guenther, community development specialist for the PPRC at UMSL, wrote the report.
"Creating Whole Communities" came about after Swanstrom convened a series of focus groups to advise him on how to use the resources of his endowed professorship to help address an issue that has long puzzled him: What could be done to encourage more balanced development in the St. Louis region?
The report notes that three points stood out from those meetings:
- St. Louis needs to increase its capacity for strategic community development
- Strategic community development requires a supportive community development system
- St. Louis needs to increase the capacity of community development corporations to do this important work for the region
Swanstrom and Guenther identified 45 active CDCs in the area that met their definition of "place builders" and invited them to take a survey. They sought to evaluate the condition of the CDCs and gather their thoughts on what they needed to do to work more effectively.
Thirty-four CDCs responded to the survey. The results have been compiled in "Creating Whole Communities," which looks at the following in regard to the St. Louis region:
- Economic development and jobs
- Quality of life
- The organizational capacity of CDCs Building Civic Capacity
- CDC networks
"We hope the network will help build a stronger community development system in St. Louis," Swanstrom and Guenther wrote in the report. "The ultimate goal is to enable all residents of the St. Louis area to have an equal opportunity to live in communities where they can realize their full potential."