Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Building the capacity of community-based organizations to be agents of community development

I had a chance to drop by UMSL today during lunch for a round table discussion hosted by Dr. John McClusky, Director Emeritus of the Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program. The discussion centered around the redevelopment in Old North St. Louis, and was pretty amazing.

I know remarkably little about this neighborhood, save that it is just North of Downtown St. Louis, and until recently was a dwindling community.

But to see the pictures of the rehabbing work done in ONSL, and to hear about the success they are having in attracting residents and businesses, made me think.

In the game of chicken and egg, represented by population base and business development, how do you attract both?

I mean, business won't show up unless you have an economically viably population base, and that population is unlikely to move into an area that provides little by way of infrastructure or amenities.

It appears, at least in the case of ONSL, if you sell people on the vision for the community, they are willing to make the first move (much like the American people in the recent election, but I digress).

The vision in this instance is of a diverse urban village, in which people know their neighbors and have communal spaces, close to downtown, with amenities galore.

Through Historic Tax Credits, some really solid partnerships, and a core set of guiding principles, ONSL is really coming together.

Information about Old North Saint Louis can be found at

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