By: Eleanor Tutt, Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance (RHCDA)
What positive changes could you catalyze if you had access to detailed, asset-oriented market data that helped make the business case for increased access to food, financial, and other retail services within St. Louis neighborhoods? What if you were able to show investors and policymakers the true purchasing power of these communities as well as measurements showing how much money is lost due to a lack of available neighborhood consumer goods and services?
The Social Compact DrillDown is a community collaborative, co-chaired by Housing & Community Solutions and Regional Housing & Community Development Alliance and in partnership with Social Compact. The collaborative is currently analyzing a variety of datasets to arrive at exactly this type of community-focused market data. Key support for the project has come from St. Louis County, the PNC Foundation, Commerce Bank, US Bank, the Garfield Foundation and an anonymous family foundation.
Social Compact is a national nonprofit that has completed DrillDown reports in over 20 cities. It has credibility with retail investors due to its successful track record and prestigious board of directors. The DrillDown consists of market data built from the ground up that is tailored to urban markets. It differs from traditional market data in that it does not rely on census estimates, which tend to undercount both population numbers and purchasing power in urban communities, but does incorporate estimates of the informal economy. Often, because of these differences, Social Compact data shows that communities are safer, more stable, and have greater buying power than previously believed.
In Fall 2011 we will release the St. Louis DrillDown report and conduct outreach to ensure the data gets put to use for the benefit of our community. One of our goals will be to assist a diverse group of current and potential St. Louis stakeholders, all with different perspectives, to find common ground.
From a community perspective, the DrillDown will provide hard data to back up perceptions of need and help shift the tone from deficit-oriented (“lack of services”) to asset-oriented (“untapped purchasing power”) when advocating for investment. From an investor perspective, the DrillDown will reveal new opportunities for sustainable and socially responsible investment. From a foundation perspective, it will help identify which community needs can be filled by private investment, and which needs, while important for reasons of equity and community health, are not feasible for the private market to resolve.
If you would like to learn more about the DrillDown, please contact co-chairs Stephen Acree ([email protected]) or Eric Friedman ([email protected]). More information about Social Compact can be found on their website at www.socialcompact.org.