When developing Chester's arts corridor, investments are local - Generocity Philly

Funding

Jun. 7, 2018 8:31 am

When developing Chester’s arts corridor, investments are local

Next City investigates one investment strategy for revitalizing the small city, which includes a program-related investment from the Barra Foundation.

Chester's Devon Walls addresses a community meeting in June 2017.

(Photo via twitter.com/BarraFdn)

Economic development can be funded by many sources: investment capital, government, community development financial institutions, private capital, foundations.

Each comes with its own challenges, opportunities, restrictions — and politics. A group in Chester, the small city just southwest of Philadelphia with a population of 34,000, is being particularly selective about who’s funding its own revival.

Next City visited Chester and its cheerleader for a developing arts corridor, Devon Wells, to investigate its local ownership-focused strategy for securing funding.

Two of the carefully selected funders? Media-based Untours Foundation and Wayne-based Barra Foundation, which we profiled last summer for its foray into program-related investments meant for exactly this type of project.

Barra, we wrote at the time, made its first program-related investment in September 2016 “in the form of a five-year, $250,000 loan to New Day Chester, Inc., a social enterprise that aims to revitalize downtown Chester by buying unoccupied buildings, rehabbing them and renting them out as artist and community spaces.”

Check out Oscar Perry Abello’s piece for a closer look at how of Chester’s investment strategy is played out, and the high stakes involved.

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