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Cascade: No. 54, Spring 2004

Message from the Community Affairs Officer

In some respects, it already seems like a lifetime since we held our conference, Reinventing America's Older Communities, with the Brookings Institution and other partners, but in other ways it is still very fresh in our minds. It was our biggest undertaking since I joined the Fed, and it would not have been possible without the support of the Fed's senior management and help from my staff. In particular, Vera Bowders, manager and community development advisor, orchestrated all the details of inviting 55 speakers, including nine present and former governors and mayors, arranging room space and meals, and registering 423 attendees-no small feat. I am pleased she is part of our team.

Of all the good speakers at the conference, I was particularly struck by Richard D. Baron's comments that very few community development organizations sit down and meet with the school districts in their cities. What a shame that one party does not know what the other is planning. We all understand how significant a school system is when families choose a place to live.

Several of you have already contacted us about keeping the issue of smart growth alive. In this issue of Cascade, we have several stories that continue the themes of smart growth and reinventing older communities. We have a story about the University of Pennsylvania's proactive efforts as developer and investor, along with its community initiatives, to strengthen its adjacent neighborhood. We have also included an article about a transit-oriented development in New Jersey planned by Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development Inc. along the new light-rail line from Trenton to Camden. We would like to hear from government agencies, nonprofits, and banks that have implemented plans to renew downtown commercial and residential areas. We want to know what works and what doesn't, because we may want to share that experience with our readers.

Another story in this issue that may pique your interest (from a CRA compliance perspective) is the effect of changes by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to census-tract boundaries and metropolitan statistical areas. In some cases, OMB's changes will result in different income classifications for census tracts. For more information, please be certain to read our article.

And, finally, I would also like to introduce a new feature in Cascade. Starting with this issue, there will be a new section, Spotlight on Research, devoted to presenting the results of recent studies on key issues that confront this region and beyond. It is my hope that this section, a summary of selected current empirical research, will expose our readers to information they might not ordinarily receive.

Spotlight on Research will be written by Dr. Marvin M. (Marty) Smith, who recently joined the Community Affairs staff as an economic education specialist. Dr. Smith, who received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from Cornell University, was previously employed by the Congressional Budget Office and the Brookings Institution. I trust that you will find Marty's articles both instructive and thought-provoking.