Community Development Corporations

In the United States, Community Development Corporations (CDCs) made their appearance catalyzing economic growth by investing in job creation, business development, real estate and affordable housing in target communities. Prior to the 1970s, banks "redlined" against minority neighborhoods, even to credit-worthy residents. In 1973, ShoreBank founders, Ron Grzywinski, Mary Houghton, James Fletcher, and Milton Davis, with backgrounds in banking, social service and community activism, decided to buy a bank in a disinvested neighborhood, and create complementary affiliates, focusing all of the resources on one neighborhood.1

Today, Shorebank has several branches around the US including its "Environment Bank" in the Pacific Northwest that invests in sustainable development as well it has opened a myriad of nonprofit subsidiaries that provide support technical and financial services to complement Shorkbank's private sector efforts. For example, Shorebank International Ltd., supports international economic development activities by offering a broad range of advisory and financial services in its core market segments of small business finance, microfinance and housing finance. ShoreCap Exchange is a nonprofit capacity building company supporting financial institutions in the development finance field. It provides one-on-one capacity building to microfinance institutions and small business banks in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. 2

Today, CDCs and Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) are prevalent business models found among economic development practitioners of social entrepreneurship in many Western countries, and are increasingly active in Eastern Europe and other emerging economies in an effort to build the global CDC/CDFI industry. 3

  • 1 Shorebank website
  • 2Ibid.
  • 3International Practitioners Working Group on Community Economic Development (PWG); Coastal Enterprises CDC (www.ceimaine.org)