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Cutting through the data maze….
Demography describes the social characteristics and vital statistics of people, families, and households within a geographic boundary. A variety of secondary sources provide free or low-cost online access to useful data. Developing an in-house, ” fast and easy” demographic resource is an important step in selecting the social conditions and the economic variables such as the cost of housing or access to employment that would be of greatest use to your organization or company.
Evaluate the depth of need for goods and services both public and private on a per capita basis. The research includes an improved understanding of the changing quality of economic demand on local businesses in terms of market size. Our Demographic Reports review options and help select the information deemed most useful to the client’s immediate needs.
Whether for-profit businesses or nonprofit community organizations corporations the tools for managing changes in market conditions are best understood when regional data is compared to local knowledge. A well-known tactic for evaluating these changes is advanced demographic research on the dollars and cents of local markets.
Preliminary Market Analysis Services
A key asset of every community is its uniqueness, including the ability to act on an issue quickly. Acquiring an advanced Demographic Market Report on local commercial districts will reveal local small businesses’ capacity to capture local spending and if local nonprofits can get down to business with businesses.
Also known as a “drill down” method, the process helps community groups to launch a competitive response to large corporate retailers in business-to-business and business-to-community dealings. The policy has encouraged local nonprofit organizations with a public service mission to consider “running a business” to “fill in the retail gaps.” This has been wrong-headed.
In most urban communities today, the spending of as few as 25% of the households represents 75% of local retail spending. Still, local business or community advocates only see 75% of lower-income households whose spending power is only 25% of the market. Changing the business model to make the powerful 25% happy would be competitively good for everyone.
If you are a community-based nonprofit organization dealing with the concentrations of poverty, consider “transshipment” controls. This effort changes the means of delivery in the journey to free people trapped in self-destructive and community-destructive cycles.
What are your organization’s key performance indicators?
Community organizations and private businesses create change in response to the values and beliefs of a community. Testing for these values is a particular strength of nonprofit community service organizations, but small businesses also perform well in this area. Small companies and charitable nonprofits advance the opportunity for growth by adapting well to change. Here are three examples:
- Risk Management – How does your organization define and manage risk?
- Timely Evaluations – What steps are taken to preserve capital and leverage public confidence?
- Conduct an Effort to Outcome Analysis – Do you use client management software?
The Organizational Development Report often precedes a Strategic Plan. OD creates levels of goal assurance. Efforts are evaluated as individual tasks combine knowledge with interpersonal behavior. New sources of capacity occur with acknowledgments that confront impediments.
Strategic Planning is a tool to advance an organizations development with an external environmental scan. The scan examines competitive and cooperative relationships that are possible among the full range of civic, business, and public agencies. The SP Report produces a road map for the executive staff that improves operations, and interpersonal communication with flexible, scalable, and reasonable procedures.
Knowledge Capital Assessment
In the United States, an entire generation has been fundamentally untouched by global war, disease, or famine. This group is rapidly becoming “fifty-something,” and that is reasonably good news because human resource managers and executive directors face the dual challenge of retaining key people in their organizations. Most jobs are knowledge-based, and older workers, in increasingly large numbers, can fill these challenges into their 60s and beyond. Along this line of thinking, is your organization prepared to address the following set of questions?
Organizational Development (OD) reports suggest the following quality of thinking:
- As an employer, you cannot guarantee your future, so how can you secure the careers of your employees?
- Are employees encouraged to be responsible for their own careers and life planning?
- Will new ways to offer career options such as flexible time encourage your most experienced staff to explore fewer hours, with less stress and less pay?
- Will older workers help or hinder in developing the careers of younger workers?
- What the differences in how older vs. younger workers seek advancement?
- Have you developed succession plans for employees eligible to retire over the next five to eight years?
- Have you measured the gap between the talent you need in five years in comparison to the ability currently available?
- Are you training products on your list of investments to ensure employees of all ages can achieve ‘sustainable’ employability within your organization or elsewhere?
- Has the question, ‘Is there a retirement ‘life plan’ been asked of the older staff? Is a plan in place to assure this occurs at least five years before retirement date?
The United States produced 99 million jobs in 1980, with 107 million workers in the labor force looking for jobs. By 2010 a reversal is expected. There will be 168 million jobs but just 158 million workers, a shortfall of 10 million that includes recession impacts.
By 2010, about 64 million people(40%) in the labor force today (2007) will reach retirement age. This will be the healthiest, longest-living, and the best-educated group of retirees in American history.
Mark Freedman, in Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life, examine the national implications of the old/young staff and anticipates many questions about keeping this resource affordable. (See Questions)
These and many other issues face organizations of all sizes and missions. We will be pleased to explore the OD report option with your organization.
For more information on this particular question, we recommend the Urban Institute’s Retirement Project website for its research briefs. The economic influence caused by a higher percentage of the older people in the population we love to call the boomers will be with your organization for some time. Try these brief papers:
- Will Retiring Boomers Form a New Army of Volunteers? (8 pages, PDF)
- Retaining Older Volunteers Is Key to Meeting Future Volunteer Needs (6 pages, PDF)
- Are We Taking Full Advantage of Older Adults’ Potential? (8 pages, PDF)
Select objectives that measure the accomplishment of goals.
- define policies that govern resource acquisition, use, and disposal
- find resources to acquire objectives
- adjust to changes in these objectives
Key services and components for strategic action:
- Scan the environment
- Selection of “key” issues
- State vision/mission statements
- Conduct an external and internal analyses
- Develop goals, objectives and strategies
- Implementation actions selected
- Monitor, update, and re-scan
Model Selection .:.
The strategic model is one that:
- Emerges from a mutually beneficial partnership
- Allows for meaningful participation throughout the planning and design process
- Results in tactical implementation for a self-renewing design and planning solutions
- Provides opportunities for innovation in the use of materials and methods
- Promotes a “many-disciplines” discourse for collaborations to generate creative ideas
- Fit appropriately in physical, social, economic and cultural context
- Responds to concerns about environmental, operational and economic sustainability
- Allows participants to build/own the project
- Responds to concerns effectively and quickly
Additional information about publications with access to Adobe PDF documents where noted.
Good, Deeds, Good Design
Princeton Architectural Press, New York (2003)
Over the last twenty years, Rex Curry has taught a variety of urban planning seminars and studios in Pratt’s School of Architecture, the Graduate Program for Planning and the Environment, and in the Pratt Institute Center for Community Development. As the former president of the national Association for Community Design, Inc. (ACD), he has furthered the development of this national organization by representing a combination of for profit and nonprofit planning and architectural practices in the United States.
One mainstay of community service through architecture is the community design center, some of which have existed for over twenty-five years and contributed a unique body of knowledge and great depth of experience. CDCs have come to represent great potential for a new form of professional practice. Read Article (pdf 365K)
In July 2000, a news headline described conditions in Chinatown in the following manner: “Boom times are the worst thing ever to have hit New York’s Chinatown.” In January 2001, members of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) invested in the development of a “working papers” project and a survey of public opinion. Over a period of six months, beginning in March 2001, research and interviews identified the facts, defined issues and encouraged mutual action in areas of shared interest. On September 11, 2001 everything changed. The papers became a resource for recovery. Read Executive Summary (556 .pdf)
Community Design as a Standard of Practice
While at Pratt Institute, I sponsored a Fulbright Scholar interested in design, community participation and development. When I received a call from the editor of Time Savers seeking contributions to their first publication of Urban Design Standards, I asked our resident scholar Dr. Sheri Blake if she would be interested in the project. The article link is below.
When trapped in the matrix of metrics, Blake points out that change does not occur without persuasion. In this sense, when the facts do nothing but paralyze a community, other methods are needed to develop the courage to change and grow with uncertainty. Read Article (pdf 366K)
Gowanus Research Leads to Zoning Changes in 2007-2008
The freight moving capacity of the Gowanus Canal defined Brooklyn’s economic growth for a century. The material the canal delivered are the homes that surround it. Today, it there is less a robust but steady investment in environmental protection and lack of decline in some businesses that hint at its new potential. This combination of economic inputs implies significant changes to the adjacent “upland” residential communities such as Boerum Hill, Columbia Heights, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope and many others.
The choices outlined in the 1987 Gowanus Canal Development Study (GCDS) examine the potential for a sequence of land use changes into the future. Data for local business and local nonprofit corporations provided measures of changing economic conditions. A series of “sites” in the report offered probable development locations. Several fragmented urban blocks over total area of 1.7 square miles, almost 467 acres define these locations. The primary investment remains a public responsibility. Making right a long series of past environmental wrongs has proven to take two decades vs. the 4 to 5 years originally estimated. A subsequent analysis undertaken in 2000 identified the causal issues, but once again attempted to define and market development locations.
During the initial 4-5 year period the Canal’s ancient flushing mechanism was re-engineered using the same technology – a pump to bring clean water into the Gowanus Canal to achieve “fishing and boating status” (level 7). The next high level of need is the administration of environmental services to continue the process of land restoration and monitoring for intentional dumping and spills in the area. This is where clean up efforts have stopped “dead in its tracks”. Dumping is part of the Canal’s legacy, just putting clean water into it does not mean that CSO dumping has been reduced or the that the need for indemnification of past land owners by the public can proceed given the current status of the land and environmental protection reform.
The 2000 report (a few of the pages are inserted below) included a detailed review of zoning history examining the last fifteen years of public land use decision making. An argument promotes the “re-invention” of local business opportunities using a special district approach with financial incentives. The vision is a revitalized canal business and industry center drawing on the substantial resource of design professionals in the area. The challenge is it argued, is the revitalization of this part of Brooklyn’s waterfront landscape is through unifying the demand for employment with new affordable housing based on industrial product design and research.
The community base of demand for “doing something” came from a visionay, a resident business man, and the unofficial Mayor of Carrol Gardens. Buddy S. Scotto’s saw a little bit of Venice, young entrepreneurs, and above all an end of its pollution. The central lesson here should be persistence. Any developer taking a modest look would require a fearlessness sense of risk. Since 1987, when I first started to take a serious look, I realize that position will hold through 2050 with a strong new group of advocates.
Survey of Outreach Programs
This survey examined the relationship between graduate urban design programs and university-based community outreach programs. The survey reports urban design programs in schools that included community outreach organizations. In addition to those covered, six others, without graduate programs in urban design do have undergraduate programs: Arizona State University, Tulane, University of Maryland, University of Tennessee, University of Oregon, and Yale. To open and download the table (pdf 280k) Click Here