North Minneapolis 2009 - "40/40/40 Community Benefits Agreement" Must be a Part of Business as Usual to Help Community Growth

by Donald W.R. Allen,II - Date: 2008-12-23 - Word Count: 672 Share This!

"If it's not growing, it's going to die."

...Michael Eisner

In 2009 north Minneapolis community coalitions need to implement a "40/40/40 Community Benefits Agreement" with any organization planning to develop, create or build in the community. A community benefits agreement, or CBA, is a private contract between a developer and a community coalition that sets forth the benefits that the community will receive from the development. Common benefits include living wages, local hiring and training programs, affordable housing, environmental remediation and funds for community programs. CBAs ensure that development is equitable and benefits all members of the community, eventually contributing to stronger local economies, livable neighborhoods and increased public participation in the planning process.

The 40/40/40 CBA is structured to insure there is a equal spread of 40% investment into the community before (development and construction), 40% during (employment of community residents) and 40% after (a set level of community engagement based on earned and applied funding streams to benefit the community in the form of grants and program support). This blanket agreement should be applied to agencies like the University of Minnesota, Metropolitan Transit, local banks and any developer or City of Minneapolis coalition coming into north Minneapolis with a proposed projects.

For example, in New York City, "Community benefit," of course, is a euphemism for "legal shakedown." From a potential developer's perspective, it represents a pre-negotiated bribe paid to politicians and their allies for the right to attempt to create new jobs, and to bolster the city's revenue base. But the practice is all the rage in New York these days. Similar requirements accompanied the recent Harlem rezoning deal, and "community benefit" shakedowns were integral to the new Yankee and Shea baseball-stadium projects.

The second part to implementing a successful CBA or "40/40/40 CBA" is the people at the community coalition level. Coalition-Building: At the heart of the community benefits strategy is coalition building. Organizing and maintaining a coalition, facilitating compromise and crafting a shared agenda is essential to creating a successful CBA. If enough stakeholders come together with a common vision for economic development, developers are likely to want to negotiate an agreement. The CBA process offers developers and attractive alternative to litigation and polarizing public debates. (The University of Minnesota should have been held to a more comprehensive CBA then the one NRRC has or is authoring).

With a comprehensive CBA (40/40/40), the University of Minnesota would have been severely "twisted" for pulling out of NorthPoint Health and Wellness Clinic and rather than FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education) waving $750,000.00 in funding opportunities in the communities face, they would have been required to develop (with community input from people that have been successful in business and community engagement) a working model that not only benefited the community and FIPSE, but also "recaptured" funds that were originally invested in business, projects and people. CBAs ensure that the developer's promises regarding community benefits are legally enforceable. Developers like the University of Minnesota - who are not really "developers" - but scientists, anthropologists and administers hold the upper hand when it comes to dollars they are "pitching" for a project and often make promises that are never written into the development agreement, or are never enforced even if they are included. This is especially true of promises about jobs being created for local residents. CBAs commit developers in writing to promises they make regarding their projects, and make enforcements much easier. Such agreements generate a collaborative relationship from the beginning avoiding community objection and costly delays.

It's not too late for a community coalition to come together, author and deliver a detailed Community Benefit Agreement based on the 40/40/40 Rule that includes the community 100%.

In the calendar year 2009, a standard "40/40/40 Community Benefits Agreement" can and should be delivered to anyone coming into north Minneapolis to do business. This is the only way the residents of north Minneapolis will be able to create education options, build wealth and create economic stimuli while gaining independence by having "choices."

Related Tags: business, negotiation, minneapolis, minneapolis-urban-league, university-of-minnesota

Donald is the General Manager of Twin City Business and the Independent Business News Network in Minneapolis. Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

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