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Cascade: No. 88, Summer 2015

Message from the Community Affairs Officer

From the coffee shop where we buy our morning latte to the dry cleaners where we drop off our laundry, small businesses play an important role in our day-to-day lives. They also play a significant role in our local economies, providing the jobs and commerce that are central to the functioning of our communities. In this issue of Cascade, we share a series of articles that highlight the role of small businesses and examine the lessons learned from efforts to revitalize commercial corridors.

Theresa Y. Singleton, Ph.D., Vice President and Community Affairs OfficerTheresa Y. Singleton, Ph.D.,
Vice President and Community Affairs Officer

Our lead article by Richardson Dilworth traces the evolution of commercial corridors in the city of Philadelphia. In addition to a quick history lesson, the author offers some examples of innovative uses of commercial space to promote economic vitality in local neighborhoods.

Two other articles in this issue highlight the broad range of efforts and investment that are needed to promote commercial corridor revitalization. In an article that describes the Local Initiatives Support Coalition's national MetroEdge program, the authors remind us that sometimes the smallest investments can bring about significant improvements. Efforts ranging from installing clear and colorful signage to simply encouraging routine street cleaning can have a powerful impact, bringing much needed attention and investment to a neighborhood.

In most cases, financial resources are key to turning a community or a commercial district around. Our article on the city of Allentown presents perspectives from four leading stakeholders in the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone. This improvement effort provides tax incentives to developers to encourage revitalization in downtown Allentown and along the city's waterfront. These leaders share their insights on the progress that's been made in Allentown as well as give their thoughts on how downtown development can benefit neighborhood residents.

Fostering entrepreneurialism and small business development can be an effective community and economic development strategy. In Spotlight on Research, Marty Smith reviews an article that examines the role small businesses can play in driving a retail restructuring campaign in the Fort Greene community in Brooklyn, NY. In another article, the Kauffman Foundation provides additional examples of the power of small businesses in generating jobs and promoting economic vitality.

Together, these articles remind us of the opportunities presented by small businesses and commercial corridors in our communities. Gaining a broader understanding of how they operate and what they need to flourish will help not only the individual small business owners but also the very communities in which they are rooted.

Theresa Y. Singleton