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July 1, 1999 Community-Based Organizations Central City Neighborhoods Grand Rapids, Michigan Dear CBOs: This manual was written by three MSU Urban and Regional Planning students. They researched a number of economic development tools that have been used by government and private businesses during the 1990’s. The goal of this manual is to enable neighborhood associations and other CBOs to access these tools and then effectively utilize them in their revitalization work. Due to the effects of urban sprawl and other societal dynamics, central city neighborhoods continue to suffer from the consequences of disinvestment and abandonment. Although many revitalization strategies must be employed to make our neighborhoods viable again, community-based economic development efforts must become a strategic priority. This manual explains several tools, how to use them, and when they can be most effective. This toolbox does not include every resource that could be utilized. Hopefully, we will continue to add to the programs that can be tapped by neighborhood associations and Community Development Corporations as they increase their capacity to meet neighborhood development needs. The effective use of any of these tools is predicated upon a comprehensive, neighborhood redevelopment plan. There must be a shared vision among neighborhood stakeholders of what improvements are needed and how the neighborhood should look. Only then can the appropriate tool be selected to accomplish the needed improvement. For example, an abandoned piece of property on a block that needs to be redeveloped so that it fits with the neighborhood vision could come under the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. The chances of the property being accepted by the Authority are greater if the applicant demonstrates how redevelopment fits into an overall neighborhood development plan. I hope you find this manual useful as you undertake community-building activities. Sincerely, Carol L. Townsend Director MSU Center for Urban Affairs-Grand Rapids

community development guide