C-W City

Richmond, Virginia

Posted March 2014

The 32nd in our continuing series of Community Wealth Cities is Richmond, Virginia. Richmond has a complex history; once the capital of the Confederacy, it was also the first city to host a bank chartered by African- Americans. Its unique legacy as a site of both racial tension and progress creates interesting challenges and opportunities for community wealth building. Last fall, Richmond gained national attention for Mayor Dwight Jones’ anti-poverty plan, which calls for broad expansion of community wealth building and social enterprise activity.

Read more about Richmond, Virginia...

San Diego, California

Posted January 2019

The eighth largest city in the United States, San Diego has the nation’s fourth largest population of residents facing homelessness. To counter this, San Diego is home to a number of institutions and initiatives that are attempting to build community wealth. This includes: the recently launched San Diego Community Land Trust, which will work to expand access to homeownership and permanently affordable housing; the University of San Diego, a member of our Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative, which is working to strengthen community engagement and catalyze local community economic development; and Neighborhood National Bank, the first nationally chartered bank designated as a CDFI. Read more about San Diego, California...

Birmingham, Alabama

Posted April 2018

Founded in 1871 through the merger of three small towns, Birmingham quickly grew as an industrial center thanks to the exploitation of cheap, non-unionized immigrant and African-American workers and its proximity to iron ore, coal, and limestone deposits (the three raw materials needed to make steel).  Named after Birmingham, England, which was then considered one of the world's most renowned industrial centers, its rapid growth earned it the nickname, Magic City. Read more about Birmingham, Alabama...

Tacoma, Washington

Posted February 2018

The forty-fourth in our C-W City series is Tacoma, Washington. 26 percent of all Tacoma children live in poverty versus 16 percent of children statewide. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, the city’s homeless population increased by 37 percent. To reverse these trends, the City, local anchors, and organizations are investing in building community wealth. Examples include the Education Project, operated by the Tacoma Housing Authority, which includes a children’s savings account program that provides matched savings to incentivize family deposits and financial literacy programs Read more about Tacoma, Washington...

Nashvillle, Tennessee

Added November, 2017

Founded in 1779 and named after Francis Nash, a Revolutionary War hero, Nashville quickly became a prosperous city thanks to being a port on the Cumberland River and its designation as the state capital in 1843.  Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, its manufacturing base developed and thrived, fueling the city’s robust growth. Read more about Nashvillle, Tennessee...

New Haven, Connecticut

Incorporated as a city in 1784, New Haven grew through the 18th and 19th centuries thanks to its flourishing industrial sector and an influx of immigrants, mainly from southern Europe.  The city’s population reached its peak of nearly 164,500 residents in 1950, after which significant numbers of middle class residents began moving to the suburbs and manufacturing jobs began leaving the city.  This industrial decline, coupled with the growth of Yale University, the Ivy League school founded in New Haven in 1701, has resulted in an economic base that is now dominated by the education and health care sectors.  Home to the first public tree planting program in the country, New Haven is also now known for its large canopy of elm trees, giving it the nickname, The Elm City.

Dallas, Texas

Posted January 2017

Dallas was incorporated as a city in 1856, and quickly became a business and trading center following the development of major rail lines through the area.  The city’s importance as a transportation hub was reinforced by the construction of the Interstate Highway System in the mid-20th century, with four major highways meeting in the city and another circling it.  While Dallas’ economy was initially based on cotton and oil, its accessibility has helped it become an industrial and financial center with a diverse range of industries and the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S.  While other Texan cities have suffered in recent years due to falling oil prices, Dallas has continued its remarkable record of experiencing growth every decade since the 1870s.

Madison, Wisconsin

Posted June 2016

The second largest city in the state, and the state capital, Madison is home to a number of historical community wealth builders. One of the oldest worker-owned cooperatives, Union Cab, was established in the city in 1979 and now boasts gross annual revenues over $7 million and 230 members. In 2014, the city allocated $1 million a year for five years to support the growth of worker-owned businesses. This is the largest allocation toward cooperative development by a U.S. municipality to date.

Read more about Madison, Wisconsin...

Dayton, Ohio

Incorporated in 1805, Dayton, Ohio was once a hub for industrial growth reaching a population peak of more than 262,000 in 1960. Similar to other industrial cities, however, Dayton’s population began to decline as a result of suburbanization and industrial flight to places with low labor costs. According to U.S. Census estimates, Dayton had 141,003 residents as of 2014. Roughly half (51 percent) of the city residents were white, 43 percent African American, 3 percent Hispanic American, and 3 percent multiracial. Although Dayton does experience economic challenges, including a poverty rate twice the state average, many civic and community leaders are working hard to reverse this and promote economic and social inclusion.

Burlington, Vermont

Although it is the economic and educational engine of the state, Burlington has a relatively high poverty rate and is facing the challenge of steadily rising housing costs. However, the city is also home to many community wealth building groups and institutions—many of which emerged due to the efforts of former Burlington Mayor and current United States Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Read more about Burlington, Vermont...

Burlington, Vermont

Posted February 2016

Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, Burlington, Vermont is the largest city in the state and a major economic and educational center. Located just 45 miles south of the Canadian border, Burlington is home to just over 42,000 residents. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city is 87 percent white, 4 percent African-American, 4 percent Asian-American, 3 percent Hispanic-American, and 3 percent other.

Settled in the late 1700s, Burlington’s early history revolved around its waterfront and trade links. By the 1800s, bolstered by completion of the Erie Canal, the Champlain Canal, and the Chambly Canal, it was one of the foremost lumber ports in the United States as well as a major freight rail center. To support these activities, the city’s waterfront was repeatedly expanded, before falling into a state of polluted neglect by the 1980s as a result of economic shifts that reduced the city’s role as a transportation hub. Starting in the late 1980s, under then Mayor Bernie Sanders, the city undertook a major effort to take much of the waterfront into public ownership, clean it up, and redevelop it for a variety of public purposes.

Newark, New Jersey

Posted December 2015

Located less than 10 miles from New York City, Newark, New Jersey is a major commercial center in the northeast. With nearly 278,500 residents, Newark is the state’s largest city and functions as a major transportation hub, home to one of the nation’s busiest airports, Newark Liberty International Airport, as well as Port Newark, the largest container shipping terminal on the East Coast. Read more about Newark, New Jersey...

Rochester, New York

Posted September 2015

Chartered in 1834, Rochester grew in the mid-19th century as the flour mill industry developed along the Genesee River. As America’s wheat processing industry moved west, the city’s moniker changed from “Flour City” to “Flower City” thanks to its growing nursery businesses. Rochester’s industrial base diversified after the Civil War, when immigrants launched enterprises including Eastman Kodak and Bausch & Lomb, helping the city to reach its peak population of nearly 332,500 by 1950.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Posted May 2015

The largest city in Indiana, and the 12th largest in the nation, Indianapolis has a population of nearly 843,400, according to 2013 U.S. Census estimates.  Demographically, the population is roughly 62 percent white, 27 percent African American, 9 percent Latino, and 2 percent Asian. Read more about Indianapolis, Indiana...

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee was incorporated in 1846. German immigrants, who came to Wisconsin in search of inexpensive farmland, fueled the city’s early growth. Over the following decades, Milwaukee attracted large groups of other immigrants, including Poles, Lithuanians, Italian, Irish, French, Russian, Bohemian, and Swedish. By 1910, Milwaukee ranked first in the nation, alongside New York City, for having the largest percentage of foreign-born residents. Read more about Milwaukee, Wisconsin...

Cincinnati, Ohio

Incorporated as a city in 1819, Cincinnati grew steadily through the mid-1900s due to its prime location on the Ohio River.  In fact, the Queen City—so dubbed by Longfellow, who referred to it as “the Queen of the West”—weathered the Great Depression better than most cities of comparable size because of the resurgence in river trade, which was less expensive than rail.  By 1950, Cincinnati had grown to its peak of nearly 504,000 residents, making it the 18th largest city in the country. Read more about Cincinnati, Ohio...

Greensboro, North Carolina

The 31st in our continuing series of Community Wealth Cities is Greensboro, North Carolina. Situated in central North Carolina and a leading site of the civil rights movement (birthplace of the lunch counter sit-ins that led to the integration of restaurants and hotels), Greensboro today is the state’s third largest city. Organizations across the city are actively creating and implementing innovative community wealth building programs and strategies to help foster a healthier, vibrant local economy.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

The largest city in New Mexico and one of the country’s most culturally diverse, Albuquerque is a rapidly growing metropolis in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley. Known as a hub for scientific and technological innovation — particularly in the energy sector — Albuquerque is also a center of Southwestern culture, with deep ties to its Native American heritage. Community wealth building organizations are working to protect this heritage and ensure that all residents equitably benefit in the face of rapid economic growth.

Jacksonville, Florida

The eleventh most populous city in the nation and the largest in Florida, Jacksonville is home to community wealth building initiatives at every level – from the city- and region-wide to the most grassroots of efforts. Both the city-owned port and city-owned electric utility serve as important economic engines. Community-led efforts are striving to revitalize the city’s especially hard-hit northwest neighborhoods.

Providence, Rhode Island

In recent years, Providence has seen aesthetic and economic changes, uncovering its natural rivers and starting to stabilize neighborhoods across the city. Aiding this revival are a number of community wealth building initiatives, including multiple anchor institutions, numerous community development corporations seeking to increase affordable housing options for low-income residents, and policies to foster local job creation, such as the Job Now Providence program.