Scott Turner, Community Affairs Department, Federal Reserve Bank of
with contributions from Anne McDonough-Hughes
and Ethan Jennings
In order to build a foundation for our community
development work, the Community Affairs Department has produced a set
of new reports
entitled "environmental assessments" for each of the nine states in
the Twelfth Federal Reserve District. We approached this project with
many questions, most of them focused around whether the community development
challenges in our district differed significantly from those faced
by our colleagues across the country. For example, does our district's
rapid growth shield us from the economic problems faced by "rust belt" states?
Do the vast amounts of land in our district prevent the affordable
housing problems experienced along much of the Eastern Seaboard? Do
small businesses thrive here, given the traditional entrepreneurial
spirit of the West? How do we compare to other areas in levels of poverty
and asset accumulation? And, what special community development issues
do the district's sizeable native and immigrant populations face?
In the process of seeking answers to these questions, we gathered
an enormous amount of data and information and learned a great deal
about our nine states, although in the end we may still be left with
more questions than answers. In particular, the reports themselves
only begin to touch on these issues on a local rather than a statewide
level. Nevertheless, we believe that these reports represent a starting
point, providing the information necessary to dig deeper into the issues
and help find those answers. Specifically, we believe that what we
have learned will force us to rethink our current priorities and find
ways to help make the banking industry more responsive, non-profit
capacity stronger, government programs more effective, and foundation
activity more focused on essential community development activities.
This year, we hope to build on this knowledge, probe these questions,
and work with each of you in our vast district to improve the low-
and moderate-income communities we serve.
A broad overview of the major conclusions of these
environmental assessments is provided in this article, and brief two-page
summaries for each state are included in the special supplemental insert
to the magazine. The complete environmental assessments can be accessed
from our website.
We encourage you to read them and look forward to hearing your feedback.