Partners share their experience working for collective impact on the Corridor

By Funders Collaborative, February 29, 2012

At the heart of the work of the Central Corridor are the partners who come together in issue-based work groups to build shared solutions to ensure that neighborhoods, residents and businesses broadly share in the benefits of investment along the new transit line.

Rarely does this group of public, private, nonprofit, advocacy and community-based stakeholders – representing the Funders Collaborative’s now five active groups – convene in one place. But that’s exactly what they did in late January at a roundtable hosted by the Collaborative.

The purpose of the session was to encourage communication, collaboration and learning among partners working for collective impact on the Central Corridor. Representatives from each of the groups provided updates on their work, as well as insights about working across sectors, jurisdictional boundaries, and issue areas to affect change along the corridor.

The result: An informative and enlightening discussion aimed at sharing learning, tension points and common struggles as the groups navigate various phases of the work from convening, to learning, strategy development, implementation, and measurement.

“The partner group work session was a valuable opportunity to learn about all that has been accomplished along the Central Corridor and what still needs to be done,” said Chris Ferguson,” chair of the Business Resources Collaborative, one of the five active working groups. “The discussion enabled me to realize how the work we are doing on the Business Resources Collaborative can leverage the work of the other groups around the table. Together, we can help our community maximize the benefit of this nearly $1 billion infrastructure investment.”

The five groups represented were: The Big Picture Project, the Business Resources Collaborative, the Joint Committee on Equal Opportunity and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, Jobs Central, and the Transit Oriented Development Investment Framework.

Below are some of the learnings and tension points discussed by each of the groups. For more information and progress updates, check out our partner page.

The Big Picture Project (Affordable Housing Group):

Objective: Preserve and strengthen the availability of affordable housing along the Central Corridor.

Work Stage: Strategy development

Key Learnings/Wins:

  • By listening to the community we learned more about building healthy neighborhoods with affordable housing as a tool vs. building affordable housing
  • We have a better understanding of what is possible and feasible goals that can focus implementation
  • There is interest in our work/approach nationally

Tension Points:

  • The need is so great vs. what we can actually accomplish
  • Balancing interests of both cities

 

Business Resources Collaborative (Business Development Group):

Objective: Create a comprehensive, integrated mix of services that mitigate construction, support business development, and promote long-term economic development.

Work Stage: Implementation, Measurement

Key Learnings/Wins:

  • Don’t give up. After many ups and downs in a tense and competitive atmosphere, we now have the ability to have tough conversations about the impact of construction on businesses in a polite and productive way with meaningful outcomes. It took time to build trust and work through issues, but we found common ground in the common goal of proactively helping businesses survive and thrive.
  • There is real opportunity around the economic development side of the equation – to create/bring living wage jobs to the corridor.

Tension Points:

  • On the west end of corridor, construction is over but people aren’t coming back. Concern over getting consumers back to businesses post construction.
  • Measurement – the group is struggling with what type of measures can we put in place; determining the impact of the various pieces we put in place, i.e. what has worked and what hasn’t.
     

Joint Committee on E.O. & D.B.E. (Contractor & Workforce Inclusion):

(Joint Committee on Equal Opportunity & Disadvantaged Business Enterprise)

Objective: Oversee progress toward workforce and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goals (18% workforce hours for minorities and 6% for women and 15% of contract dollars for certified DBEs).

Work phase:  Implementation, Measurement

Key Learnings/Wins:

  • Great Minds retreat of all interested parties around the table – brought together organizations involved in construction workforce and contracting, including community-based training organizations, unions, advocacy groups, minority and women contracting associations, prime contractors, and enforcement agencies. This retreat was a big win and helped to develop a joint strategy.
  • One of the gems of the work, creating a virtual workforce tool LRTWorks – an online networking resource for individuals, both union and non-union, interested in working on the Central Corridor.
  •  Unions are a willing partner at the table  – helping them achieve their diversity goals.

Tension Points:

  • This work is still hard.  New tables, tools and strategies can help, but there is a need to continue to collaborate and implement well.
  • Verifying DBEs can be an especially difficult subject and one that continues to take close attention of partners.

 

Jobs Central (Job Access Group)

Objective:  Connecting Central Corridor residents to jobs.

Work Phase: Learning

Key Learnings/Wins:

  • Spent good deal of time up front educating each other – workforce development &  economic development perspectives coming together.
  • Now that everyone is at the table – actively focused on outreach to businesses and residents along the corridor; have honed in on the sectors and neighborhoods we will focus on.
  • More time consuming than anticipated

Tension Points:

  • While we had some success bringing people together, we started with only 2/3 of the key stakeholders at the table. The business sector was missing. Lots of data, can be overwhelming and lack meaning at times – how to make sense of the data, agree on data to use
     

TOD Investment Framework

Objective: Create a comprehensive public investment framework to leverage appropriate private investment in the Corridor. Identify critical investments that might otherwise be missed.

Work Phase: Strategy

Key Learnings/Wins:

  • Developed a Corridor Investment Tool to track public and private investment in the Corridor
  • We’ve all done station area plans, the primary question: What kind of infrastructure needs to be in place to implement those plans in a way that leverages private investments, other related policy issues?
  • Has the framework provided information that has allowed government entities to make different public investment decisions? Yet to be determined.
     

Tension Points:

  • Who owns the investment tool/framework – literally and figuratively?
  • Green space – how do we make sure the planned open spaces get built?

We invite you to learn more about our working groups here on our partner page.  To learn more about a specific group or to contact a working group leader, please visit our partner’s pages: The Big Picture Project, the Business Resources Collaborative, the Joint Committee on Equal Opportunity and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, Jobs Central, and the Transit Oriented Development Investment Framework.