How can a tiny nonprofit have any leverage in a neighborhood dominated by big developers or the drug market? One answer is federal investment; another is public-private partnerships.
NKCDC Executive Director Dr. Bill McKinney joined a panel discussion hosted by LISC Policy on The Federal Policy Landscape for Community Development: Perspectives from the White House and Practitioners to explore the role of community development corporations in economic recovery. Here‘s how he introduced NKCDC.
(Edited for clarity)
DR. BILL McKINNEY: You know, I think for us, as a locally based community development corporation, the first context I would say is: We’re an organization that serves a community that is the second poorest congressional district in the state. It is arguably the epicenter of the opioid epidemic right now. Violence and homicides have doubled, and plus, over the past year and a half within this district.
All of those you can look at as individual things, or you can see them as a direct result of systemic racism. And so that’s our starting point.
The pandemic comes in, and now you have a situation that all of those things that I just described were amplified, and you have a pandemic sitting on top of a series of epidemics.
And then you see America really going through its racial reckoning in a lot of different ways. It manifested different ways in different parts of the country, but for us it literally led to our main district, our main corridors being on fire, businesses shutting down. So you have a community that was already hanging by a thread, completely falling off the cliff in a lot of different ways.
So where does that leave us? We’re rebuilding. We’re literally rebuilding right now. We haven’t changed our mission, but we’ve adjusted how we’re going to do it. [Previously] we were not looking at getting into different types of acquisition or doing a lot of ground-up business development and so forth, but now we’re in a situation that that’s something that we need to be involved with.
We’re an organization that I would also say is well-positioned, in that we center trauma-informed care, we center racial equity. So we have those foundational pieces, which is what we all know will lead to the greatest success with this work. But we also face the challenge of a lack of access to capital that we need to address things at the level we need to address them, which is almost a level of a Marshall Plan type of situation out here.
So this is a really exciting conversation for me and to be with everyone who’s here because we’re at this incredibly important moment of working with our community to figure out how to go forward, and all of the different programs that exist at the federal level—as well as partnerships with private industry—are critical to where we’re going.