BLDG Memphis celebrates 20th anniversary, reflects on two decades of community development and engagement

BLDG Memphis (Build. Live. Develop. Grow.), a coalition for organizations and individuals who support the development and redevelopment of healthy, vibrant, attractive and economically sustainable neighborhoods throughout the Memphis region, recently announced its 20th anniversary, celebrating two decades of community advancement. Established in 1999, the organization now enables more than 40 community development corporations (CDCs) to make their visions a reality.

“The daily lives of Memphians are affected by the infrastructure and investments, or lack thereof, made in our communities,” said John Paul Shaffer, executive director at BLDG Memphis. “With this in mind, it has been a privilege to lead, encourage and witness the revitalization that has been brought to local neighborhoods through the work of our organization and incredible partners.”

Resources offered to CDCs include organizational development, business and financial structure, community outreach, housing development and management, and economic development, conducted using a proprietary Capacity Assessment Tool (CAT). Community engagement events, such as Pizza with Planners and the Community Development Book Club, set the stage for dialogue between neighborhood members and professionals on how communities are structured and operate.

“I am honored and humbled to see the new heights BLDG Memphis has attained,” said Kathy Cowan, community development manager at Regions Bank and BLDG Memphis board member. “The creation of this organization stemmed from a coalition of community leaders discussing challenges that were affecting all of us – like land development, grant attainment and affordable housing – and we knew there was strength in numbers. This was about all of us and the future we all wanted for Memphis. It’s exciting to know that this mission is still being carried out today.”

Previously known as the Community Development Council of Greater Memphis, the newly minted BLDG Memphis is a product of the combination of the Livable Memphis program and CDC engagement. Through peer-to-peer organization and relationship-building, alongside policy and advocacy initiatives, the organization has adapted to speak as one voice to work with city, county, government, foundations and financial institutions.

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