Research and Outreach: Two Necessary Ingredients for Effective Community and Economic Development

Article excerpt

Effective and research-influenced community and economic development has never been more important than it is now.

Policymakers and practitioners are facing extraordinary challenges developing programs that will respond to a spectrum of pressing issues, including neighborhood stabilization, unemployment and job retraining, and access to credit for businesses. Just as the need for these initiatives has increased, the availability of funding has decreased. This means community and economic development practitioners are learning to do more with less. Useful, credible information about what has worked and what has not worked is critical for the thoughtful use of scarce resources. While research and data do not supply all of the answers, they can help us make informed choices and track the outcomes of these decisions.

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In an August 2009 speech (excerpted in this issue), Federal Reserve Governor Daniel K. Tarullo articulated a modern vision of the community affairs function. Moving beyond its roots in addressing the Community Reinvestment Act, the function has evolved to have a stronger focus on community and economic development, including information sharing and forging partnerships, and an increasingly important research and data analysis component. At the same time, outreach into the community and supporting key initiatives help the community affairs function to remain in touch with emerging issues and the daily challenges facing households and small businesses. …