The traditional approach used by corporations to fight urban poverty is a stopgap measure with limited--if not altogether ineffective--results, according to the Committee for Economic Development (CED), a research group headquartered in New York City.
Currently, companies "parachute" plants into poor neighborhoods (for example, Digital Equipment Corp.'s factory in Roxbury, Mass.) or lend executives to community development organizations for limited periods. The CED, which taps business leaders to help shape U.S. social and economic policy, says such measures are helpful, but suggests that business would be more effective taking "integrated, community-wide" action.
The economic dynamics of urban America are of increasing importance to major corporations. As the composition of the U.S. workforce shifts from mostly white males to minorities and women, CEOs know that urban areas will provide a crucial portion of consumers and employees. "If urban areas deteriorate to the point where it affects daily life, it also affects business," says Virgil Roberts, a CED subcommittee trustee and president of Los Angeles-based Dick Griffey Productions (ranked No. …