President's Commentary: Community Development - Driving Economic Recovery

Date Published: 04/16/2012

Author(s): Michael Rubinger, LISC

Community development is about jobs, says Michael Rubinger, LISC's President and CEO. From LISC's 60 Financial Opportunity Centers, which help families increase assets and find jobs, to our real estate investment that creates construction and permanent jobs, community development drives job creation and retention, and spurs economic recovery.

2011 President's Letter
Download Community Development:
Driving Economic Recovery
(PDF, 806 KB)


I've been thinking recently about the power of community development as a national jobs program.

Revitalizing our neighborhoods is about more than jobs, certainly. If you look at the $1.1 billion LISC invested last year, you can see how we intentionally connected safer streets and stronger businesses to energized schools, better homes and rising family incomes. Our view, as always, is long-term. Our focus is on opportunity. Our goal is improved quality of life.

Still, at virtually every turn, that means creating and preserving jobs. Our 60 Financial Opportunity Centers, for instance, help low-income residents stabilize their financial outlook and grow their assets. They link families with jobs or help them move into higher paying positions. And, they integrate financial coaching and counseling, as well as assistance with public benefits. In 2011 alone, our Centers assisted over 17,000 people. Together, these bundled services have a remarkable impact on the financial capacity of low-income families. We will continue to open new facilities in 2012, with new Centers already slated for Philadelphia, Boston and Kansas City.

Our New Markets Tax Credit work also drives employment, though it takes a different tack. By supporting recovery of commercial corridors as well as individual projects, LISC New Markets investments have helped create 17,000 jobs in high-poverty neighborhoods over the last decade, all while expanding the business opportunities, products and services, educational options and recreational space available to residents. Those jobs would not exist but for this program and these developments, including the $85 million in credits we invested in New Markets projects last year.

Our Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) activity provides additional fuel. The National Equity Fund, our LIHTC affiliate, invested $833 million in 2011 to support affordable housing development and created nearly 9,000 new jobs in the process. That’s more equity than any other syndicator, and much-needed jobs in communities around the country.

Some critics might counter that programs like these—those focused on physical redevelopment—only create temporary construction positions. In the first place, there’s nothing wrong with construction jobs. Moreover, community development generates thousands of permanent jobs every year.

. . . .

It all seems so obvious…. community development drives economic recovery. That can’t always be measured in a compact timeframe. And, it won’t always seamlessly connect to macroeconomic trends. The data on communities is more complicated and multifaceted than that. But the reality is clear. You need only walk down the street in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood or the Bay Area’s Richmond and look around. You’ll see their growing vitality, their strong sense of place and improving prosperity. For them and hundreds of communities like them, LISC’s impact isn’t only in the numbers. It is in their enriched quality of life.Continued[+]...

Type: Topical report