Opinion: CDC: what does it stand for?

I would expect that when most folks think of what “CDC” stands for, they would think of Centers for Disease Control. But, for many of us who have had the opportunity to enjoy life in an established urban neighborhood, our response might more likely be “community development corporation” (CDC). So, what is a CDC, and why do we care?

Well, as the name suggests, the word “community” indicates a gathering and engagement of people with a common agenda or purpose—in this case, improving a place by taking action to remove or prevent deterioration, blight and decline.

The term “development” is about taking action. Developing and implementing strategies to address both problems and opportunities in a community is therefore the mission.

Regarding the third word, a "corporation" is, according to Webster’s dictionary, "a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law.” This formality is what enables and empowers a CDC to do its work, creating both public and private partnerships, and receiving and managing public funds. CDCs are about people getting involved, having a voice and making a difference.

FutureHeights has been doing exactly this in Cleveland Heights for nearly two decades. More than two years ago, its board of directors and other supporters decided it was time to take the step of formalizing FutureHeights’ status as a CDC.

FutureHeights presented this to the city of Cleveland Heights as the natural progression in the organization’s evolution—to provide a much-needed contribution of resources as a CDC.

As of this past June, after many months of presenting proposals, along with reports, meetings, presentations, discussions and consulting studies, CH City Council still had not acted. It felt to many of us that CDC stood for “council doesn’t care.”

Finally, in July, CH City Council officially endorsed FutureHeights as the CDC for the city of Cleveland Heights.

With this legislation will come funding to support planning and programs enabling the organization to address its mission of neighborhood preservation and growth. I must express gratitude to Council Member Mike Ungar for his continuous support in FutureHeights’ quest to become the CDC for our city.

After all this, simply put, what I feel a CDC really stands for, both in terms of its initials and its mission and values, is creativity, delivery and collaboration. These are all things that Cleveland Heights needs in its pursuit of economic development, housing revitalization and neighborhood stabilization. City Hall cannot and should not have to address these critical issues alone.

FutureHeights, as our CDC, with all the residents and businesses it represents, is committed to partnering with the city to assure a vibrant future for our community.

Paul Volpe

Paul Volpe, an architect, urban designer and member of FutureHeights, believes that investment in our first-ring communities is vital to sustaining the core urban centers of our region.

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 2:24 PM, 09.03.2018