Can CDCs have employees

Last Reviewed: July 4, 2024

Visitor Question:Are community development corporations allowed to hire employees? Why or why not?

Editors Reply: Certainly community development corporations can have employees, just like any other non-profit corporation (or for-profit, for that matter).

Very few CDCs accomplish much work without at least one employee, typically called the Executive Director or sometimes the CEO. Many CDCs actually have a staff of five to ten employees, with interns and volunteers rounding out the picture.

We aren't sure why you would think community corporations would not be allowed to have employees just like other non-profits.

A few restrict their hiring to residents of the service area, but many even waive that principle in order to hire the best talent they can afford. Some corporations emphasize hiring from an ethnic group or economic status they are trying to serve.

However, there are other types of non-profits, especially victim service or health-related charities, where the requirement of membership in a group being served is much more common.

Since the answer to your question is quite straightforward, let's round out our answer by describing five characteristics of ideal employees for CDCs. Here is our list:

1. Experience and education in a field related to community development, which might include urban planning, real estate development, social work, or urban studies.

2. Action orientation. People in the above fields may like to do studies and research, or advocate for policies, more than they like to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of nurturing housing and other development projects through conceptualization all the way to occupancy.

3. Savvy in building and maintaining relationships. It is inevitable that most CDCs eventually want to undertake an activity that does not have complete community support, at least at the outset. Therefore the good CDC employee is one who has built a little stash of capital with the people whose opinions matter, so that when there is conflict, the relationship has a chance to outlast the disagreement.

4. Ability to work independently. People who require supervision at every turn often cannot survive in the community development corporation environment, nor can timid souls who are afraid to make a decision without consulting other people.

5. An understanding of and tolerance for the need to abide by laws, regulations, and funder requirements. CDCs work within complex webs of government, banking, and legal regulations. If a project were simple, probably a for-profit developer would have done it already. This situation often makes for several layers of financing and for pioneering new solutions to persistent problems.

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