Jim Scott, Applied Urban Research Institute (AURI).
“I would first like to thank UMKC and Dr. Turner for getting us together for this event. It appears that it is harder and harder for us to get together, and I think everyone feels the emphasis on the direction change that Anne [Pasmanick] was giving a voice to. I wanted to suggest to Anne that I would like to join with you on this discussion on a collaboration/coalition building. I think collaboration is a problem solving instinct that can bring out the best in people and allow people with different points of view to coexist and solve a problem, employing different points of view and therefore having a stronger basis.
“I feel that coalition building is more political process that involves negation that involves smoothing out those edges to coexist with each other. And you have heard a story from Margaret [May] who has a wonderful collaborative spirit, and is willing to take that approach, and I want to echo that our community needs that as much as possible, especially in sight of a shifting domestic agenda on every level. Also, Anne [Pasmanick], I am sure that you are encouraged to hear from Ken [Bacchus] that everyone in Kansas City is nice, and that everyone in the 600 mile area is nice. Nonetheless that is right.
“Our organization the Applied Urban Research Institute is a nonprofit and we are and affiliate of a larger entity called Swope Community Enterprises, another large nonprofit. Our group is a small one, about 10 people, and our mission is to maximize investment from philanthropic, public, and private sources in communities in need. We have worked to accomplish that in the past ten years, and what has been called most recently by the Aspen Institute, Comprehensive Community Initiatives. We truly believe that is a way for housing to make sense as an economic force, we believe that because we have experienced that through our work over the last ten years.
“Housing, as viewed as a component, is a powerful and profound change agent in the urban core. Those Comprehensive Community Initiatives are long term; involve community participation at an engagement level that is more than simply buy in, they require a long term commitment to an economic shift in a community. It is not simply a targeting system for subsidies, but a way for a community to genuinely participate in an economic development. The Initiatives do need to target some of the resources that are available in both the policy and market forces: tax credits, to balance rental and home ownership, then they need to take on those issues as an initiative and therefore resource allocation is a product of the plan.
“Margaret [May] couldn’t be a better introduction for the concept, she is living in this and she is the steward for this. She lives, in her professional life, in the nexus of community and public policy for community and market forces, and must resolve that on a daily basis, and in a collaborative context. And I think they have a remarkable story. They have also experienced shifting resources allocations, as we all have recently. The Ivanhoe example is a great one for what a long-term commitment will require. Things are going to change; they will change back at the Kauffman Foundation and in Washington. But long-term initiatives require that type of flexibility, and also require new investment in those communities.
“I have been to two national sessions that have really resonated with our local conditions here. I was at the Federal Reserve Conference of Community Affairs Officers and there was remarkable community development discussion there. The Baptist Church of Harlem has been a remarkable engine for economic development in Harlem. And the minister stood up and stated that he was not quite sure what was happening. There was a real shift at how they were allocating resources and how we are viewing our commitment to an urban agenda, nationally. This group has done great things in the setting of dire need.
“Following that was Alan Greenspan who talked about community development, and spoke of what he saw as a necessary shift in the community development environment. It echoed what is happening on a local level (Kansas City) for the past five years, what we have been experiencing with the tightening of resources, but more importantly more strategic targeting of resources. More continued investments by private investors, a blend of public purpose and private return, which is very difficult to achieve. The outcome of this was to see all the Federal Reserve officers ripple across the county, and how this changed their involvement in the community. And they in turn, help banks change.