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Policies & Programs - Economy


Healthy Economy
Policies & Programs

Land: Encouraging Equitable Growth

  • Encourage the use of community benefits agreements in appropriate developments and ensure robust participation of community residents to prioritize community benefits. More information can be found in CLSEPA’s Land Value Capture Toolkit for San Mateo County Cities.
  • Establish a variety of employment and residential land uses to promote jobs at all wages and skill levels,  as well as residential units at all income levels to achieve optimal job-housing fit.
  • Leverage city-owned industrial assets to attract businesses that promote middle-wage jobs with career paths for people of color and low-income residents.
  • Preserve and optimize industrial areas that promote the retention and expansion of businesses fostering environmental sustainability and middle-wage jobs with career paths and discourage illegal conversion of industrial property. See Industrial Land Preservation section for details.
  • Use new or fortified tax measures to capture value from new developments and reinvest the proceeds in public benefits. Examples include payroll, gross receipts, per square foot and parcel taxes. More information can be found in CLSEPA’s Land Value Capture Toolkit for San Mateo County Cities.
  • Develop comprehensive community-building solutions that solidify community ownership and stabilization, such as Mission Economic Development Agency’s 4-Pronged Cultural Placekeeping Strategy. [xix]

Jobs: Ensuring access to well-paying employment opportunities

  • Ensure development projects provide employment to low-income job seekers through local hiring policies with clear expectations and outcomes, implementation resources, demand-side labor relationships with employers, and robust reporting mechanisms.  More information can be found in CLSEPA’s Land Value Capture Toolkit for San Mateo County Cities.
  • Transform low-wage jobs into good jobs by setting fair labor standards for wages and benefits and by promoting existing or creating new enforcement mechanisms.[i] Examples: Adopting a living wage or a higher than state minimum wage ordinance; preventing wage theft; promoting paid sick and family leave policies; fostering fair scheduling policies.
  • Encourage developers to pay area standard wages and provide apprenticeship opportunities to traditionally underrepresented workers in the construction industry.
  • Promote equitable commuting options for workers and improve multi-modal access to existing and planned job centers or corridors as well as job-training institutions.
  • Collaborate with other public agencies and major institutions to create programs that elevate and support the health and wellness of employees.   Examples of city and workplace policies that support family care responsibilities include breastfeeding, family-leave, flexible work hours, and child care assistance. Aspire to become a model healthy organization for other cities, agencies, and private companies in the region.
  • Increase vocational and educational opportunities in high-opportunity industries for populations who face barriers to quality employment such as disadvantaged youth, formerly incarcerated residents, people with disabilities, and unhoused community members. See the High Quality Education & Training section for more details. 
  • Adopt inclusive hiring and retention policies to promote a diverse workforce and augment employment opportunities for local disadvantaged populations.
  • Leverage local jurisdiction procurement power to promote the employment of disadvantaged populations in living-wage jobs with career paths.
  • Enforce AB 1008, the California Fair Chance Act, which requires both public- and private-sector employers to delay background checks and inquiries about job applicants’ conviction records until they have made a conditional job offer to the applicant.[ii]
  • Work with community-based organizations to prevent labor law violations by connecting workers with services and trainings. For example,  the City of San Mateo partnered with Community Legal Services East Palo Alto to conduct outreach on its minimum wage increase.
  • Maximize the ability of large constructions projects to create jobs for community members by requiring contractors to develop a community hiring plan with employment projections, designate a representative to coordinate community hiring efforts with local agencies, and monitor progress on a quarterly basis.
  • Adopt green workforce practices in sustainability planning to gain competitiveness and create quality jobs and economic opportunities. For example, Los Angeles’ Green New Deal sets targets for creating 300,000 green jobs by 2030, eliminating unemployment rate gaps, and offering free college tuition to expose students to sustainability courses. San Francisco is prioritizing a department wide collaboration to develop a clean energy workforce. [xviii]

Small Businesses: Building a Vibrant Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

  • Promote policies retaining and expanding locally owned and disadvantaged business enterprises in commercial corridor revitalization strategies, business improvement districts, or main street preservation programs. For information can be found in Get Healthy’s case study of the North B Street Improvement Initiative.
  • Use inclusionary zoning to support female entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs of color and business ownership in low-income communities. Model practices are described in the Urban Manufacturing Alliance’s guide on “How to Retain Maker and Manufacturer Industries through Creative Zoning Tools.”
  • Employ commercial stabilization tools to help communities build the economic strength of their neighborhood’s commercial district. See Commercial Stabilization Tools for details.
  • Programs that are supporting innovation entrepreneurs should take deliberate action to ensure they are effectively reaching, recruiting, and retaining people of color. For more see:
  • Identify gaps and barriers in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and leverage private and philanthropic dollars to address them. By using data, interviews, and surveys with business support organizations and business owners, cities can help business owners from low-income communities and communities of color succeed, and identify where regulatory barriers are unnecessarily hindering their growth.[iii]
  • Expand access to affordable capital for entrepreneurs of color and women to fill gaps in traditional markets: Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund provides a model for directing funds from downtown development projects towards entrepreneurs and community-driven projects in disinvested commercial corridors. [iv]
  • Leverage the local jurisdiction’s procurement and service contracts to support the local economy and grow small businesses owned by people of color, that provide living-wage jobs. [v] See the Inclusive Procurement section for examples.
  • Promote socially responsible business structures: B Corps, L3Cs, worker-owned cooperatives, and social enterprises. See the Worker-Owned Cooperatives section for more details. [vi]
  • Leverage procurement and contracting resources to help entrepreneurs of color and triple-bottom-line businesses (social enterprises, cooperatives, B Corps, etc.) both of which are more likely to hire workers of color and promote quality jobs.[vii]

Assets: Promoting Financial Security for All

  • In partnership with financial empowerment agencies working with disadvantaged populations, identify most pressing financial needs of disadvantaged residents and design programs accordingly.[viii]
  • Increase financial security and assets for disadvantaged residents through children’s and matched savings accounts, benefits assistance, access to adequate financial services, and opportunities for first-time homeownership such as shared equity programs.
  • Promote fair financial institutions that serve the need of low-income residents by encouraging the creation of community check cashing, non-profit credit unions, and financial empowerment centers (FECs). See the Financial Empowerment Center section for details.
  • Limit predatory lending by passing a land-use ordinance and/or using licensing powers to ban, limit the location of, or relocate  extractive lending establishments.[ix] See the Predatory payday and auto title lending section for examples and additional policies.
  • Ensure municipal revenue policies do not financially harm low-income residents and people of color by eliminating “high pain and low gain” fees and offering citation payment plans and waivers for low-income residents.
  • Adopt ability to pay policies to reduce the financial and health burden of fees and fines, which predominantly preys on people of lower-income levels and people of color.

Industrial Land Preservation

  • Preserve and invest in industrial land and stable, affordable housing simultaneously.[x] San Jose chose to prioritize industrial and manufacturing uses in its industrial land rather than convert it to office parks or housing while also promoting affordable housing development along transit corridors. In Indianapolis, the city and partners are re-investing in urban industrial corridors to revitalize manufacturing activity, increase employment opportunities, and stabilize nearby neighborhoods. This includes participation of community groups in the revitalization process to ensure ongoing advancement of equity goals.
  • Use zoning and policy tools such as Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMD) and Industrial Business Zones (IBZs). See the Pratt Center’s Making Room for Housing and Jobs report as well as Urban Manufacturing for more details and model practices.[xi]
  • Pursue balanced mixed-use districts only in specific and targeted areas so as not to destabilize solid industrial areas essential for the creation of good jobs, the local jurisdiction’s overall ability to function and prosper, and the protection of local residents’ health from heavy traffic or industrial emissions. In Nashville, a private real estate developer is creating a mixed-use building of residential and light manufacturing, side-by-side, with a specific plan adopted by the Planning Department to create dedicated production space.
  • Establish industrial buffer zones which provide a transition between industrial areas and adjacent residential zones, or commercial zones that also have residential uses. Requirements can include maximum size of use, setbacks, screening and landscaping, access to parking and loading, major odor sources, and light and glare.  
  • Set design guidelines that can help make industrial zones more highly functional as well as more compatible with other uses across a city, such as the Los Angeles Industrial Citywide Design Guidelines.

High Quality Education & Training

  • Create a robust cradle-to-career education that equips low-income children with the skills they need to succeed by: [xii]
  • Expanding access to high-quality preschool for low-income families.
    Ensuring excellent public education for low-income students through strategies such as the federal Promise Neighborhoods program.
  • Promote restorative justice practices in schools to keep youth in school and on track to graduate. 
  • Coordinate with local educational and workforce training agencies to identify local and regional workforce assets and needs, high-opportunity industries, and existing vocation and educational opportunities for disadvantaged populations.
  • Encourage and support social service agencies to continue developing rehabilitation and preventive work programs for disadvantaged populations to access quality jobs.

Commercial Stabilization Tools

  • Incorporate commercial leasing education resources like commercial lease templates, and legal assistance into:

    • Existing economic development programs and services, such as  educational events, business advising sessions, and small business outreach
    • Residential tenant services
  •  Use tools like targeted business assistance and facade improvements. To learn more, visit PolicyLink’s Equitable Development Toolkit.
  • Support programs that enhance small business’ negotiating power, facilitate information exchange, and empower them to collectively request local partners’ services, such as small business mutual aid associations.
  • Promote collaboration between existing small businesses owners and organizations that can help merchants deal with common issues that arise during commercial revitalization processes, such as leasing, marketing, and capital needs in order to mitigate the risk of displacement. For information can be found in Get Healthy’s case study of the North B Street Improvement Initiative.
  • Fund and support the research and implementation of policies and programs that ensure long-term affordability of commercial space for local small businesses, such as incubators and community land trusts.

Inclusive Procurement

  • Require that small, local and diverse vendors are considered in Request for Proposal (RFP) pool.
  • Unbundle contracts and carve out opportunities for small, local and diverse vendors.
  • Expand vendor access to technical assistance and training opportunities to increase local and diverse business capacity in a number of critical areas:  including business development, doing business with a particular institution, or contracting with the government sector.
  • Facilitate Mentor-Protégé relationships between large existing vendors and smaller local businesses
  • Partner with business support organizations to co-locate programming and showcase local vendors
  • Conduct outreach and education on how to work with your institution
  • Adjust payment periods and invoicing processes to accommodate small businesses
  • Collaborate with other anchors around shared demand

Financial Empowerment Centers  

Financial empowerment centers (FECs) are city-managed programs that offers free, professional, one-on-one financial counseling to help residents address their financial needs and plan for their financial futures.[xiii] FECs should:

  • Prioritize service offerings: FECs can offer a wide array of services to city residents, so it is critical to identify the greatest financial challenges facing the community in order to prioritize services.
  • Ensure language access: FECs should strive to offer services accessible to limited English-proficient individuals in their communities by providing written translation and oral interpretation in other appropriate languages.
  • Collaborate with community-based organizations: FECs thrive when they have strong relationships with community-based organizations, which serve as a point of entry to addressing many economic challenges facing workers and families.
  • Engage the private-sector: Private-sector partners can provide critical resources to support city efforts for financial empowerment, including employees to participate in financial coaching, financial expertise and possible volunteers (especially in the case of banks), and philanthropic support for financial empowerment programs.
  • Collect data: Cities should establish clearly defined data collection procedures at each step of client engagement to assess the effectiveness and inform the direction of financial empowerment centers while safeguarding the privacy of clients.
  • Create long-term plans to sustain FECs, including budgetary allocations, professional training for counselors and other staff, formal relationships with private-sector and nonprofit partners, and program development plans.

Predatory Payday and Auto Title Lending

  • Pass a one- or two-year moratorium on new or re-locating non-chartered financial institutions. [xiv]
  • Citywide Ban: Disallow any new payday or auto title lending stores throughout a jurisdiction.
  • Ban from neighborhoods: A neighborhood ban disallows non-chartered financial institutions from specific neighborhoods. Existing establishments are grandfathered. The ban may be neighborhoods where there is a high concentration of non-chartered financial institutions (e.g. San Francisco), or neighborhoods where there is a high concentration of low-income residents (e.g. San Jose).
  • Set a cap by either creating a maximum total number of payday and auto-title lenders within the jurisdiction or restricting new establishments. A cap is especially useful for jurisdictions where there is a comparatively large number of existing payday establishments. Example: San Jose’s restrictions on new payday lending storefronts. 
  • Set distance measures: Distance measures limit the location of new or re-locating non-chartered financial institutions based on their distance from another specified land-use (e.g. San Mateo County).
  • Require non-chartered financial institutions to obtain a conditional use permit: While this does give local staff the opportunity to deny a non-chartered financial institution application, it does not provide local staff with policy guidance in making a decision about whether to grant the conditional use permit (e.g. Rialto and Long Beach).
  • Require payday and auto title lenders to provide customers with information about non-predatory alternatives.
  • Require a Zoning Code Verification Certificate: This certificate verifies that an applying non-chartered financial institution has met all of the relevant zoning codes. While this certificate could be seen as a duplicative process it establishes one more check in the process, usually at the level of the Director of the Planning Department. Special permits serve a similar function.

Worker-owned Cooperatives

Worker-owned cooperatives and employee-owned businesses can be promoted when cities[xv]:

  • Streamline business supports: Identify all city resources and processes related to starting a business, and streamline them into one-stop shops to facilitate the founding of new business ventures, including cooperatives.
  • Secure permanent funds: Given their collectivized structure, co-ops may struggle to secure traditional bank loans and business financing. Cities working to foster the development of cooperatives must consider not only how to fund their support services, but also how to facilitate business funding for prospective co-op ventures.
  • Select a co-op development partner: Co-op development centers and incubators can provide technical assistance for prospective worker-owners. Cities should develop selection processes to identify organizations that can help with education and training, and consider creating a co-op center if the existing resources are inadequate.
  • Create grants and loans: Using a combination of grants and loans, cities can develop sustainable support models to bolster co-op efforts, providing critical start-up capital and guidance.
  • Use conversions: Survey small business owners to identify those approaching retirement and provide information and support converting to a worker-owned structure.
  • Pass an ordinance that supports and incentivizes the growth of worker cooperatives by adding worker cooperative preference to existing Buy Local contracting preferences, creating business tax and land use incentives for worker cooperatives, and developing cooperative-specific educational materials to supplement the City’s business support services [xvi].
  • Streamline regulatory processes and reduce land use fees and business taxes for newly formed worker cooperatives  [xvii]:
    • Priority permit processing and expedited review
    • Streamlined conditional use permit processing
    • Permit fee waivers
    • Parking requirement exemptions


[i]  Treuhaft, “Building an Equitable Economy from the Ground Up.”.
[ii] “California Governor Brown Signs Fair Chance Act, extending ‘Ban the Box’ to Private Employers,” National Employment Law Project (blog), October 15, 2017,
[iii] Chris Schildt, “Key Strategies to Advance Equitable Growth in Regions,” Sustainable Communities Series (PolicyLink, 2015),
[iv] Chicago Neighborhood Opportunity Fund,
[v] Schildt.
[vi] PolicyLink, “Worker-Owned Cooperatives,” All-In Cities Policy Toolkit (blog), accessed December 29, 2017,
[vii] Treuhaft.
[viii] Treuhaft, “Building an Equitable Economy from the Ground Up.”
[ix] Tim Lohrentz, “Tools for Advocates of Limiting Payday Lending: How Your Community Can Limit Payday Lending through Municipal Land-Use and Other Ordinances” (Insight Center for Community Economic Development, June 2013),

[x] Tanu Kumar et al., “Prototyping Equity Report.”
[xi] Adam Friedman, Jenifer Becker, and Joan Byron, “Making Room for Housing and Jobs” (Pratt Center for Community Development, May 2015),
[xii] Treuhaft, “Building an Equitable Economy from the Ground Up.”
[xiii] PolicyLink, “Financial Empowerment Centers,” All-In Cities Policy Toolkit (blog), accessed December 29, 2017,
[xiv] Tim Lohrentz, “Tools for Advocates of Limiting Payday Lending: How Your Community Can Limit Payday Lending through Municipal Land-Use and Other Ordinances.”
[xv] PolicyLink, “Worker-Owned Cooperatives.”
[xvi] Sara Stephens, “Draft Worker Cooperative Ordinance” (Sustainable Economies Law Center, December 2015),
[xvii] Stephens.
[xviii] LA Green New Deal,
[xix] Cultural Placekeeping Strategy,