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August 13, 2002
NCCED Supports CDCs
    by Anne Moore Odell

The National Congress for Community Economic Development is helping community development corporations operate more effectively and expand their services.

The National Congress for Community Economic Development (NCCED) is the trade association for community development corporations (CDCs) and the community economic development (CED) industry. Working as an advocate for CDCs since its founding in 1970, NCCED conducts public policy research, training, special projects and conferences. It also produces newsletters and other publications.

The over 3,600 CDCs in the United States vary in age, size, and where they operate. While some CDCs are more than 20 years old, many are relatively new. According to the NCCED Census Report, the CED industry grew 64 percent between 1994 and 1998. Some CDCs have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in community growth while others work with much smaller amounts. CDCs can be found in both rural areas and large urban centers.

Despite differences in scale, most CDCs share the same vision of how to work with the low-income communities they serve. CDCs support economic development by creating employment opportunities, encouraging business development, and expanding affordable housing. By including members of the community and addressing a myriad of community needs, CDCs are not only supporting physical development, they are branching out with human services and other non-physical support. NCEED is a voice for all these organizations, big and small.
One of NCCEDís latest publications, Managing Your CDC: Leadership Strategies for Changing Times by Robert Zdenek and Carol Steinbech, offers suggestions on overcoming challenges that any size CDC could face. After relating a brief history of CDCs, the book addresses specific issues that must be managed to successfully run the organizations. Using real CDCs as examples, the authors show the importance of disciplined, skilled management in achieving the overall goals of CDCs.

Some of the CDC management challenges outlined by Ms. Steinbach and Mr. Zdenek include increased competition for funds, staff retention, coping with the addition of new activities to the CDCís original mission and the fact that improving management is often not a CDC priority. According to the authors, CDC management can be improved by focusing on three core areas: strategic decision-making, staff and resource management, and operating systems. Each management area is given an in-depth chapter with concrete steps that CDC staff can implement within their own organizations.

Although a slim volume, Managing Your CDC is packed with ideas tailored to CDCs in ways that general managerial books could never be. By drawing on real life examples of CDCs that have either failed or succeeded because of strong management decisions, the book is topical and practical. While the book could be helpful to any size CDC, it seems most applicable to younger CDCs that are looking to expand.

This publication is just one of the newest products available from NCCED. Members can also receive newsletters including Resources, Faith in the Community, and NCCED News Notes online.



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