Authored by Larisa Ortiz
About two years ago, LOA was engaged by the New York office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a long standing client of ours, to lead the development of a commercial district needs assessment methodology (now known as the CDNA) that is used by the City of New York's Department of Small Business Services (SBS). The project was designed to support a budding partnership between LISC, Citi Community Development and SBS.
Using our own consulting approach as a starting point, we developed a formal methodology for collecting and interpreting both qualitative and quantitative data that could be taught and replicated internally by SBS staff. The results of these efforts are now coming into high-relief. In Staten Island alone, the tool informed the allocation of $1.5 million dollars in spending along the Bay Street corridor ("$1.5M grant to fuel business on Bay Street", SILive, 3/20/17). And we have recently been engaged again to develop it into a national tool utilizing the lessons learned in New York. In its newest iteration it will be called the "Commercial DNA" toolkit, because in truth, the ability to understand and diagnose commercial districts is all about understanding their "DNA" and utilizing that information to make more informed investment decisions.
To date the methodology has
been used in six neighborhoods, with more to come. In each case, the data has been collected and turned into sophisticated overviews of each district, highlighting district challenges and needs. The reports can be download here.
While not every City has the resources nor the capacity to complete these assessments in-house (nor should they!), we look forward to sharing the learning and the approach more broadly in its next iteration. Stay tuned!