Restoring Prosperity in Older Industrial Cities

Looking for Progress in America’s Smaller Legacy Cities: A New Report From TFN and The Federal Reserve Banks

Place-based funders can play an important role in connecting economic growth to economic opportunity. Looking for Progress in America’s Smaller Legacy Cities: A Report for Place-Based Funders describes a study tour undertaken by representatives from four Federal Reserve Banks and more than two dozen place-based funders, under the auspices of the Funders’ Network-Federal Reserve Philanthropy Initiative.

“Our hope is that this report will help funders figure out how to better use limited resources to achieve robust, equitable and inclusive economic outcomes in their communities,” said Alicia Kitsuse, director of TFN’s Restoring Prosperity in Older Industrial Cities program.

What began as an inquiry into four small legacy cities that appeared to have experienced some measure of revitalization in the post Great Recession environment – Chattanooga, Tenn.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Rochester, N.Y.; and Grand Rapids, Mich. – evolved into an understanding that revitalization in these places is moving along two distinct paths: an “arc of growth” and an “arc of opportunity.”

In the context of these small legacy cities, growth and opportunity is unfolding separately along these two long-term “arcs,” leading to the conclusion that broad community prosperity lies in:

1. Recognizing that growth alone does not naturally lead to opportunity.
2. Advancing deliberate policies, investments, and programs that connect growth to opportunity.

Read the executive summary and download the full publication here.

About Older Industrial Cities 

The Older Industrial Cities Working Group includes foundations with strong place-based interests, a commitment to shared learning, collaboration among funders and with national and local stakeholders and prosperity for cities and their residents. Its issues range from economic development and jobs to neighborhood revitalization and land use. Its tools stretch from capacity building to model practices and policy interventions. In 2016 OIC reaffirmed its commitment to the welfare of cities large and small and approved six driving forces:

  • The intersection of place, people, and economy
  • Commitment to systems change, philanthropic thought leadership and policy momentum
  • Attention to economic opportunity, inclusive prosperity and economic resilience
  • Laser-focused strategies for equity, inclusion and structural racism
  • Relationships that pivot issues and expand collective voice
  • Investments that catalyze other investors and stretch dollars.

Selected OIC Initiatives

Smaller Legacy Cities Study Group

Issues and opportunities associated with older places affect cities large and small. Funders located in smaller communities and national funders with footprints outside of urban cores join together to share knowledge and find solutions that build competitive smaller cities. During 2016 members completed study visits to four communities with impressive revitalization strategies. Observations on successful interventions will be published this year.

Turning the Corner: Displacement and Neighborhood Growth Research Project

A joint project of National Neighborhood Indicators Project, Federal Reserve Banks and OIC, Turning the Corner is developing a new lens on neighborhood displacement patterns since the Great Recession in 4-6 cities across the country. On the local level, the data will drive policy ad program decisions. At the national level, the aggregated information will create a new data base of trends, jumpstart learning among participating cities and focus on best interventions.

Federal Reserve/Philanthropy Initiative

The Federal Reserve/Philanthropy Initiative (FPI) is committed to leveraging the presence of the Federal Reserve Banking System (FRB) and the on-the-ground strategies of OIC funders. It provides a space for shared learning opportunities and collaboration models on national and regional projects. FPI meets annually and membership is open to all OIC members.

Learning Forums

The OIC Working Group convenes an annual meeting, hosts topical Learning Network conference calls, convenes member issue briefs and manages a funder listserv. OIC also publishes an electronic newsletter – City Digest – that highights media articles and events of interest to members.

Inside Policy Series

Press Releases

2017 Annual Meeting

2017 Annual Meeting Resources


Contact Alicia Kitsuse
(305) 667-6350

Steering Committee: