For NeighborWorks partner communities, CLUE Group is pleased to announce we have been engaged to provide economic development assistance through NeighborWorks America's "Catalytic Grant Program." For communities that qualify, our services may be available to you at no (or very little) cost.

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We provide a broad range of economic analysis, business development, planning, policy and evaluation services for historic places and, particularly, for traditional downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. We can help NeighborWorks communities strengthen the commercial districts in the places where you work, helping ensure that neighborhood residents have good, convenient access to jobs and services.  Under the Catalytic Grant Program, we can help in four specific areas:

1. Community economic development

We can help you create solid, achievable, and forward-looking economic development strategies and practical implementation plans. Our approach cultivates local entrepreneurs and businesses, and the development of market-responsive housing.

2. Business development tools and incentives

We can help you find and develop the tools and incentives needed to support existing businesses and help develop new ones. This includes business feasibility assessments and plans; developing and funding retail, restaurant, or other targeted incentives; and developing community-owned businesses.

3. Neighborhood marketing

We help organizations develop effective marketing messages and use marketing to engage residents , increase sales, and change perceptions.

4. Evaluation services

We believe that business mix and business performance are important metrics to include in evaluating the overall health and progress of a downtown or neighborhood commercial district. We can work with you to build data collection and metrics into the evaluation process, using community-appropriate tools to measure things like:

  • Net new businesses
  • Net new jobs created
  • Net new housing units
  • Net rehabilitated housing units
  • Building rehabilitation investments
  • Investment leverage impacts
  • Changes in retail sales
  • Changes in vacancy rates
  • Investments in public improvements and infrastructure
  • Net changes in reported crime
  • Net changes in property values, property ownership rates, and commercial taxes generated
  • Baseline and follow-up residents surveys (e.g., measuring changes in perceptions, residential and shopper experiences, etc.)
  • Social media engagement (e.g., with local businesses and local community groups) 

We routinely use Skype, email, WebEx, and other tools to work remotely with clients around the country and abroad.

Our work is guided by the following principles:

  • We believe that it is critical that economic growth be guided by dynamic, market-based strategies that cross-cut all aspects of community development – physical improvements, business development, marketing, and more. 
  • Historic and older downtowns, neighborhood commercial corridors, and communities operate within vastly different economic contexts than they did several decades ago, so we look for innovative development solutions to old challenges.
  • We look for opportunities to strengthen and cultivate locally owned businesses. We believe locally owned businesses provide market distinctiveness that helps position the community as a unique destination and investment value.
  • We look for pockets of growth that provide signals about changes and opportunities occurring in the regional economy.
  • We help community leaders create tools that encourage and support their business development goals -- and we identify barriers that might inadvertently be discouraging business growth.
  • We put information to work right away, making our reports brief and easy to understand.
  • We try to make the process fun.

If you would like to work with us through the NeighborWorks Catalytic Grant Program, please get in touch with Josh Bloom (josh <at> cluegroup.com; 202.427.4722) or Kennedy Smith (kennedy <at> cluegroup.com; 202.657.5232). We look forward to working with you.