Food and Beverage Manufacturing
We can become known as a center for urban agriculture. This could start with a retail enterprise that supplies gardens. It could grow to provide education about permaculture, and broker labor and expert services. A system of coops could be cultivated by inspired young people: bicycle compost services, greenhouses and seedling production and distribution, labor assistance, consultants, farm stands and produce distribution schemes, value added production, appropriate technology research, development and production (innovative green houses, upcycle products).
Ultimately we could host a research and education institute for urban permaculture in partnership with OSU that would bring resources into the community from funders and people from around the world who want to learn and do research.
An analysis of this the economic impact of localizing food production can be found in Sustainable Agriculture in the Willamette Valley
The neighborhood has repeatedly voiced a desire for natural foods stores and there is a potential venue in the center of River Road being investigated by a developer that could catalyze an economic hub. A farmers market is also “low hanging fruit” that would connect growers and eaters while creating community.
Clean Technology and Renewable Energy
Green infrastructure development is another economic development engine. Our neighborhood could develop a plan to reduce our carbon footprint with measurable objects such as all new construction incorporating solar systems and. retrofits to a percentage of the community by 2020. For example, we could be developing small scale grey water systems and solar hot water manufacture and installation, home bio-gas/composter manufacturing. An economic development plan could incubate cooperative skills development to provide jobs and a workforce for this new economy.
For more information see the MIT CoLab document “Green Infrastructure & Economic Development: Strategies to Foster Opportunity for Marginalized Communities“.
Health and Wellness
Health care is another basic need that could be a cluster sector, particularly in complementary and integrative services. There are numerous services located in our neighborhood, but they are not identified. With very little effort, they could be organized and collaborate for a “buy local” neighborhood health service.
The potential for a Community Development Corporation
How can a neighborhood, without the resources to invest in enterprises stimulate economic investment is the direction we want?
Through the planning process we can address policy and zoning issues that support our vision. The neighborhood associations can promote and advocate for this vision and city resources are available to help entrepreneurs that come forward.
However, if we set up a Community Development Corporation we would have a non-profit vehicle to build infrastructure for collaboration, incubate needed neighborhood businesses, and attract funding for cooperative enterprise. The neighborhood needs a vehicle for implementing cohesive economic strategy and branding. Otherwise residents are at the mercy of individual entrepreneurs and developers that may or may not be in sync with the interests of the community.
This organizational infrastructure would help us access crowd sourcing investment and local funding systems such as Community LendingWorks, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) based at the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO). The Community Reinvestment Act also requires local banks to funnel money into community development. An example of a neighborhood level Community Development Corporation is Our 42nd (www.42ave.org) in Portland, which has a tag line of “Connecting People with Place through Employment & Business Development”
Another possibility is to establish a Community Land Trust that would conserve local property for community needs rather than all property development being at the whim of real estate developers.
- National Community Land Trust Network
- Shareable.net article: How to Start a Community Land Trust