Community Benefits Agreements would boost neighborhoods, small businesses

By Ken L. Harris

Crain’s Detroit Business Article – Sunday, November 9, 2014

detroit-neighborhood

We have all heard the thematic tale of two Detroits, the whispered interplay between the haves and the have nots, the rich vs. poor, black vs. white and corporate vs. community. While Detroit is witnessing a paradoxical resurgence between the downtown and the midtown (commercial corridor), amounting to billions of dollars in investment, the city’s neighborhoods (urban corridor), which are comprised of more than 82.7% African Americans and 32,490 black-owned businesses (2010 Census) have largely been ignored for any economic opportunities, resources, and benefits, which has become a serious problem. The lack of a clear economic policy in Detroit’s neighborhoods has led to insurmountable socio-economic disparities, resulting in increased unemployment and joblessness, small business and entrepreneurial neglect, community despair and a sense of hopelessness. A Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) can be a tool for achieving equitable and inclusive development that will address Detroit’s “Neighborhood Problem.”