Community Economic Development

We help your community build on its past toward a sustainable future by applying our legal knowledge and experience to your particular challenges and opportunities. In our work we are driven by this essential advice: figure out what you want and what you can do, and keep your parameters in the center of the process. It’s not, primarily, about what someone else wants.

We have worked with communities all around the State, and we have a nuanced understanding of how projects have to be handled differently in different communities. We tailor our advice and approach to the particulars of your project – it’s not a one-size-fits-all system. As “outsiders,” we are not beholden to any local interests, and we can be more objective. Finally — we’re good at writing tight contracts that are clear but comprehensive, tight and tailored to the specific project.

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Our CED work generally falls into two categories:

Public-private partnerships and development incentives – negotiate your best possible (legal) deal with a private partner.

When a private party shows up, they bring their own set of outside lawyers, finance professionals and other experts. You should have an experienced CED attorney with you from the start – because as nice as the other folks might be, they are not looking out for your community’s interests. Only you are doing that.

We can help you set up a partnership framework that provides the value to your community that you want. There are lots of ways to provide incentives into a private project — you need to find the way that best address your community’s priorities and that fit within the legal guidelines.

We can also help before you identify a specific partner. We can help you with the RFP and RFQ process, both in development and evaluation. We can help you define your community goals and priorities as they inform the Request process. We will coordinate our work with any other consultants to develop a financing and project plan that matches your priorities and resources.


Capacity building – enhance your tools and resources.

Are you getting the most impact for your existing programs?

We’ve worked with communities to design – and re-design – downtown loan and grant programs to enhance legal compliance and program effectiveness.

Are your existing organizations operating effectively? Do they have the “legal infrastructure” in place to make them competitive for outside grants? Is there a match between the bylaws and how they actually do business – and if not, how can we fix that?

Maybe you need a community strategic plan – not just an economic development plan, but a community development plan – starting from scratch, to help design a community that lifts up all your populations and sets you up for success.

Sample projects

We’re always happy to talk about our work. Contact us if you’d like to talk about any of these projects, or about yours!

Negotiate terms of developer incentives for in-town buildings

We’ve worked with several communities to negotiate developer incentives. In each case we start with the question of, does the community really want to incentive the project? And if so, let’s identify the community’s priorities and make sure those are tied in with the community’s support. We deal with questions of what kinds of incentives pass legal muster, the procedural requirements of incentive statutes, open meeting and public records law, and other matters of local government contracts.

In one case, an apartment developer was asking for some help with infrastructure costs. We talked with the client to determine what the client would like in return for this assistance, and suggested asking the developer to make some of the apartments affordable units for a period of time. The client was quite pleased to work out that agreement with the developer.

We also have to remember – you can’t make a good deal unless you’re willing to make no deal. Sometimes the best outcome is to walk away from a bad (or sinking) deal, and we’ve recommended that when appropriate.


Downtown loan and grant programs

We’ve worked with communities to start loan and grant programs from scratch, but one of our best projects was to help revamp a client’s existing programs.

This client had a variety of loan and grant programs. Each program had a different purpose, but also had a different application form. The programs had separate scoring rubrics, but we saw a mismatch between the expressed purposes of the programs and the rubrics. So, we created a consolidated, streamlined application and revamped the applications, descriptions and rubrics for a better match.


Assemble land for redevelopment

An obstacle some clients face is that land ripe for redevelopment is held by multiple owners who might never agree on anything. Sometimes the locality needs to be the catalyst by assembling the land for later development or disposition. Here’s a blog post we did about two different approaches our clients have used for this problem.

Related Blog Posts

On Public-Private Partnerships

On loan and grant programs

On real estate development

On working with affiliate groups

On community engagement

Project Highlights

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