BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Florida Alliance of Community Development Corporations (FLACDC) held its annual summit Oct. 28-30 in Daytona Beach.
The conference, with the theme, “Celebrating Our Past: Working for Florida’s Future,” brought together Community Development Corporations (CDCs), businesses, banks, developers and non-profits for education and sharing of resources.
Community Development Corporations (CDCs) are nonprofit organizations that support and revitalize communities, particularly those that are impoverished or struggling. They are often located in Black or minority communities.
Summit topics discussed relating to community and economic development included affordable housing, the racial wealth gap, opportunity zones, entrepreneurship, collaboration, building a successful board, economic development, the impact of technology and job automation, the 2020 census, and racial equity.
‘Doing the groundwork’
“We work to bring together an inclusive community, partners and providers. We want to really create community change in development across Florida. This conference is critical because it brings together those doing the groundwork, said Sarah Combs, chair of the FLACDC and chair of the University Area CDC in Tampa.
“This brings providers, financial sponsors, bankers and developers all into the same room to share past experience and learn how to build a more inclusive future.’’
Change in focus
This year was special because it was the organization’s 15th anniversary.
“Our alliance has really changed over the years. Fifteen years ago, CDCs were really the way communities were changing but things have changed. We had to adapt to stay in tuned to what our partners need to involve and grow,’’ Combs explained.
“We’ve shifted from being more focused on affordable housing to land banking and figuring out how to get funding to grow fun small businesses.”
Range of issues
Local leaders attended the event, including the Central Florida Community Development Corporation (CDC) located in Daytona Beach. The conference was held at the at Daytona Beach Hilton Oceanfront Resort.
“This convention is very important for us. The FLACDC is the trade association for our industry. This helps keep us adhere to the policies that impact our customers and funding as well as practices that work and don’t work in our industry,” expressed Gerald Chester, CEO and president of the Central Florida CDC.
CDCs often deal with affordable housing issues but can be involved in a wide range of community services that meet local needs such as education, job training, health care, commercial development and other social programs.
They are tax exempt non-profits but can obtain both public and private funding.
Know what’s available
Combs urges people to know what’s available in their communities.
“Education is power. Learn the resources in your community. Not every community has a CDC but may have something with a different name operating like one,’’ Combs noted.
“Being able to access resources is important. That’s why the FLACDC is here. A person should be able to pick up the phone and let the CDC know what they are doing and find what resources are available in that community and connect the resources where everyone can succeed.”
Summit sponsors included BB&T, Wells Fargo, Center State, Iberia Bank, Neighbor Works America, JP Morgan Chase & Co., PNC Bank of America, Synovus, Fifth Third Bank, Regions, TD Bank, Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Neighborhood Lending Partners, Florida Community Loan Fund, Valley, BBVA, Bank United and the University Area Community Development Corporation.