One way communities can ensure that redevelopment projects and new retail centers include locally owned businesses is to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with the developer that stipulates how much of the project’s retail space must be set aside for local businesses.
A CBA is a legally enforceable contract signed by a community group and a developer that provides specific outcomes for the development in return for the community group’s support of the project. The benefits achieved with a CBA often range from broad goals to very specific targets. A CBA might, for example, specify that the development create a certain number of jobs with a certain level of pay and benefits. The versatile nature of these contracts makes them useful avenues for citizens to ensure projects meet neighborhood standards and needs.
It is common for CBAs to be negotiated for projects that receive public subsidies, such as tax abatements or tax increment financing, but this does not have to be the case. A developer may be willing to enter into a CBA in order to secure a neighborhood group’s support for a special permit or zoning change necessary for the project to proceed, or to avoid a lengthy and uncertain approval process by reaching a compromise with opponents.
Among the many provisions that a community might consider including in a CBA is a requirement that the developer reserve a certain amount of space for locally owned, independent businesses.
- Community Benefits Agreements: Making Development Projects Accountable
This 2005 report by Good Jobs First and the California Partnership for Working Families runs through the basics of CBAs and profiles a number of communities that have already established one, or are currently trying to.
- Words That Work: Communications Messaging for Community Benefits Agreements
This 2007 publication by the Partnership for Working Families and SPIN Project is a communications toolkit designed to help Community Benefits advocates learn from others’ experiences and integrate successful communications strategies in their own campaigns.
In March of 2008, members of the Longfellow Community Council (LCC), a South Minneapolis neighborhood, signed a Community Benefits Agreement with a developer looking to redevelop an old feed mill. The site comprises four blocks next to a city light rail station. Continue reading