Welcome to my blog! This is a place where I will share innovations in the community development space that I’ve learned about and am putting to practice in projects where Hope is involved. To start, I am kicking off a blog series that will take us through the end of 2016. Over the past 15 years of working in community development, I have learned – sometimes the hard way! – a few key considerations for those who are embarking on development that creates thriving, equitable communities. Over the next few months, I’ll be blogging about each of the following considerations, summarized below.
Get very clear on the goals, vision, and values of the project before one dollar is raised and one shovel is put in the ground. There will be hundreds of decisions for the project. Being clear on the goals, vision, and values of the project will make these decisions less difficult.
Make sure to fully understand the project cost from start to finish. Be as conservative as possible and try to budget as realistically as possible (both construction and operations)! Think about what could possibly go wrong and budget for it and/or make a plan to mitigate that risk.
Surround yourself with qualified professional services firms/organizations/individuals that share the same values as the organization and have a reputation for being skilled in bringing complex, multi-faceted deals to a close.
Set up a communication system with the project team early on and stay disciplined in this communication approach.
Pre-development work really makes a difference in the end. The more you can invest up front in understanding how the project will work, how much it will cost, and mitigate as much risk up front as possible, the easier the project will be to complete.
Two issues that tend to create delays: environmental remediation and ownership of the land/property. The sooner these are settled, the more quickly you can approach various sources of capital with confidence.
Always keep the operations of the building in mind.
When raising capital, make a very strong case to demonstrate how the project will achieve community and economic impact and be financially feasible. Investing in this narrative (and understanding) up front will sow the seeds for a more successful capital raise and a more sustainable project.
Again with the project goals, vision, and values: make sure that the capital you are raising is closely aligned with these values. Develop a screen to see whether the capital is a good match for the project.
Leadership. There are opportunities for leadership from many people in many aspects of a project. The most successful projects I have seen are those that have a leader who is extremely clear about the goals of the project, has the grit to see it through, can navigate the financial complexities (sometimes with the help of others) and inspires other leaders around her to also cling to and work toward completing the project. In my experience, this is the defining hallmark of a project that creates maximum community and economic impact.
HOPE Community Capital, LLC
Carrie Vanderford Sanders