New State & Local Policies

Bank on Los Angeles

Launched in 2008 as a joint effort of the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Mayor, the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, local financial institutions and community-based organizations, Bank on Los Angeles aims to connect Los Angeles’ unbanked and under-banked populations to low-cost financial products and services and expand access to financial education.  To do so, participating banks and credit unions created low and no-cost products targeted toward first-time and “second chance” clients, expanded outreach strategies in low-income neighborhoods, and developed community-focused financial management training.  Participating community-based groups added financial education, free tax preparation, and other asset building programs to their program offerings.  To date, Bank on Los Angeles is credited with helping to open over 56,500 bank accounts.

Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)

Founded in 1996, SAJE aims to make Los Angeles a happier, more just place.  To do so, it focuses on changing public and corporate policies in ways that can provide concrete economic benefit to working-class people, increase the economic rights of the working class, and build leadership through a movement for economic justice.  Its achievements include the first-of-its-kind Community Benefits Agreement with Anschutz Entertainment Group (i.e., the owner of Staples Center and L.A. Live), which stipulated the hiring of neighborhood residents at a living wage, and the conviction of a record number of slumlords in partnership with the City Attorney.  SAJE also runs the Figueroa Corridor Community Jobs Program, which provides low-income community residents with training in the hospitality industry and building trades and helps ensure they can access better jobs with higher wages.  Since 2004, the program has assisted over 600 local residents.

Responsible Banking Ordinance

In 2012, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a "responsible banking" ordinance that requires banks doing business with the city to disclose detailed data on loans and foreclosure activity by community.  With $30 billion in assets, $6 billion in deposits and pension funds, and about 45 contracts with financial institutions, the City expects the ordinance to encourage banks to increase their lending and other services to city residents, particularly those in low-income communities. Read more about Responsible Banking Ordinance...

Local policies for building community wealth

John Duda
We need to move beyond ‘projects’ and towards policies that help build and sustain community wealth, says John Duda of the Democracy Collaborative

Clandestine Corporate Subsidies Undermine Community Participation in Local Economic Development

Nevada attracts Tesla Motors factory, risking $1.3 billion in community-sustaining tax investments

Last week, the Nevada legislature approved $1.25 billion in tax breaks for Tesla Motors to establish a  lithium battery "Gigafatory” for electric cars. Read more about Clandestine Corporate Subsidies Undermine Community Participation in Local Economic Development...

Policies for Community Wealth Building: Leveraging State and Local Resources

The Democracy Collaborative

Fostering resilient communities and building wealth in today’s local economies is necessary to achieve individual, regional, and national economic security. A community wealth building strategy employs a range of forms of community ownership and asset building strategies to build wealth in low-income communities. In so doing, community wealth building bolsters the ability of communities and individuals to increase asset ownership, anchor jobs locally, expand the provision of public services, and ensure local economic stability. 

America Has a Scary Sewage Problem: Let's Clean It Up and Jumpstart the Economy While We're At It

Gar Alperovitz

The problem is simple, surprising, and quite honestly disgusting: Our nation’s older cities depend largely on sewage treatment systems that overflow when it rains, dumping 860 billion gallons of raw sewage a year into “fresh” water across the country—enough to cover the entire state of Pennsylvania an inch deep.

But the stormwater crisis is also a tremendous opportunity to move in the direction of a new, community sustaining local economy.


Cincinnati’s Small Business Enterprise Program

Established in 1999, Cincinnati’s Small Business Enterprise program supports small businesses located within ­­­­­­­the Greater Cincinnati area. Read more about Cincinnati’s Small Business Enterprise Program...

Q & A with Gar Alperovitz: The new economy movement is crystallising

Clare Goff
New Start Magazine

Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz discussed the growing support behind democratizing wealth in an interview with New Start Magazine. 

Worker-Owners Cheer Creation of $1.2 Million Co-op Development Fund in NYC

Rebecca Burns
In These Times

In These Times talks to Hilary Abell, author of the Democracy Collaborative report "Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale," about New York City's move to invest $1.2 million in worker cooperatives.

Worker Cooperatives Address Low-Wage Work and the Feminization of Poverty

Women stand to benefit the most from greater equity in and control of the workplace
Seattle‘s minimum wage ordinance is one step toward lessening inequality and poverty compounded by low-wage work. But there are still many challenges ahead. Cooperative development is one tool in the community wealth building strategy toolbox that can help lift low-wage workers, and especially women, out of poverty.

Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone

By changing the zoning code to permit urban agriculture as a permanent land use, the City of Cleveland catalyzed the creation of its Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone in 2010.  Encompassing 28 acres of vacant land in a “forgotten” inner-city neighborhood, the zone currently includes Rid-All Green Partnership’s urban farm and a farming incubator for local gardeners.  Burten, Bell, Carr Development serves as the Zone’s “facilitator,” a role that encompasses promoting the district, attracting resources, and planning for new development.  Future plans include acquiring additional vacant tracts and developing an Urban Ag Zone Greenhouse Training Program, which will include a food preparation kitchen, a retail store, interior urban gardens, a second aquaponics system, and training for those interested in urban agriculture careers.

Local and Sustainable Purchasing Preference

In 2010, the City of Cleveland adopted a Local and Sustainable Purchasing ordinance, which offers a bid incentive to local producers, local-food purchasers, and sustainable businesses applying for city contracts. Known as the Buy Local ordinance, this policy enables the city to apply a two percent discount on all bids made by businesses that are sustainable, locally-based, and/or purchase 20 percent of their food locally. Preferences can be combined for a maximum discount of four percent.

Building Community Wealth: An Action Plan for Northwest Jacksonville

Steve Dubb and David Zuckerman

This report, prepared by the Democracy Collaborative and submitted to the City of Jacksonville, Florida, highlights key strategic opportunities to leverage existing assets to build wealth in a neighborhood facing concentrated poverty and disinvestment.