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Community and Economic Development

Community Development

New Yorkers are living through a period of remarkable change, one with tremendous challenges and opportunities for communities. Responding to these challenges and opportunities in ways that ultimately sustain and enhance individual and community well-being requires community capacity – the ability of community members to collaboratively develop and utilize knowledge, skills, attitudes, and resources for a shared purpose.

Working from a set of guiding principles, CaRDI builds and strengthens the capacity of community members to identify, pursue, and achieve their shared goals.  Our goal is to provide evidence-based information that strengthens local leaders’ (e.g.:  Extension educators, community and economic development professionals, elected and appointed officials, citizen volunteers, etc.) capacity to shape the present and future of their communities in ways which promote sustained well-being for all. We build capacity and support community development through several methods and approaches, including:  training, research, technical assistance, and tools and resources.  Our ultimate goal is to enhance outcomes and impacts for the people and communities of New York State and elsewhere.

Regional Economic Development

The Community & Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) at Cornell University has responded to current and emerging challenges and opportunities in community and economic development in New York State for two decades. New Yorkers are living through a period of remarkable change. Among challenges faced are the restructuring of traditional economic bases, increasing local government costs and demands for services, a global recession, land use changes, and pressures to develop new energy resources in the face of climate change. At the same time, new domestic and global markets are emerging, green technologies represent a growing employment sector, land use planning innovations are taking hold, the local agricultural sector is growing, environmental interests and concerns are influencing policy directions more generally, and communication technologies are bringing people together in new ways.  Many challenges and opportunities facing communities, rural, suburban, and urban, around New York State increasingly take place at a regional level.  Through regional partnerships the goals are resiliency, innovative strategies and networked sustainable communities.

CaRDI’s work is framed by the conviction that community and economic development are mutually interrelated at the local and regional levels. Housed in the Department of Development Sociology, CaRDI’s programs of applied research and outreach are motivated by a concern for understanding the determinants and consequences of societal development, and a desire to produce knowledge and educational programs that contribute to the alleviation of social problems, both locally and in other regions of the United States.

Demographics and Socio-Economics

Local leaders use data and indicators in a variety of strategic ways, including incorporating data into their master plans, grant proposals, research studies, program evaluation, and broader decision-making processes. Data allows us to establish baseline measures, measure trends over time, compare our communities and organizations with others, establish goals for the future, and to make informed decisions to enhance the well-being of people and communities.

Accessing, interpreting, and using data for planning, evaluation, and informed decision-making is an important component of community and economic development. CaRDI’s focal area in Demographics and other socio-economic data provides links to data tools and resources, trainings, publications, and collaborators, with the goal of connecting people and organizations with the data and tools they need.