One of the most daunting challenges that older communities face is creating effective, development organizations that help energize area residents and leaders with a sense of promise of a vibrant community. The biggest obstacle? Getting government, non-profits and stakeholders on the same page and pulling in the same direction. Community development organizations can get that done.
Joel Ratner Community Partnership (JRCP) recently helped Elyria start a new community development organization. The Elyria Community Partnership (ECP,) is tasked with infusing a sense of civic vibrancy surrounding this historic city that was experiencing disinvestment and had a lack of tools to respond.
Elyria is a beautiful community of historic significance with a beautiful urban area. In recent years, with the migration of businesses, the area faced challenges. Civic leaders were confident that a development organization could revitalize the community.
Community development organizations provide an indispensable and sustainable effort to reverse decline and build on local efforts using place-making, housing, the arts and engagement.
Creating ECP started with engaging the right mix of community leaders, residents, and corporate citizens to work together to create a community-based initiative. In Elyria, we recruited board chair Mike Griffin and executive director Mone’t Roberts to lead and direct purposeful execution of plans to transform Elyria for the better.
The organizing committee’s overriding initial goal was to get off the ground quickly and score some early wins that would help them rally community resources and talent.
ECP began with the “Third Thursday” events, a summer concert program launched in less than five months. The weekly concert series brought residents with diverse backgrounds together to remind them what a fun and appealing place downtown is. The concerts captured the attention of the community and helped too marshal resources to counter dis-investment in downtown Elyria.
The successful creation of ECP took a series of steps beyond engaging with stakeholders.
· JRCP reviewed assets of Elyria; what could the city do to activate downtown?
· Seek early wins.
· Organize board of directors.
· Create advisory groups for purposeful insights and direction.
· Design guiding mission and bylaws.
· A formal strategic plan was created and implemented.
· A website was designed.
· Assist with 501(c)3 registry and
· Secured funding from the city and corporations such as the Nord Foundation.
The ECP has successfully contributed to ensuring that Elyria is a thriving, racially equitable, vibrant, economically growing community with quality and affordable housing and a vibrant downtown.