How to Define Development in Urban Communities

Heavily populated urban areas have their own obstacles to growth and development.
Heavily populated urban areas have their own obstacles to growth and development. (Image: city image by WojtekZ from

Urban development is often deemed a practice of expansion when cities spread into new areas. However, within a city itself, urban development takes on a different meaning. When compared with a lot of suburban and rural areas, urban communities can appear to be the most developed in terms of job availability, public transportation, paved roads and faster access to the latest in technology, such as the presence of more publicly accessible Wi-Fi connections. Development in urban communities is instead characterized by solutions to problems often exclusive to cities due to overcrowding. Among these problems are pollution, lack of affordable housing, traffic congestion and lack of affordable retail space for small business development.

Addressing Pollution, Entrepreneurship and Home Ownership

Read your local city newspaper to look for laws and regulations to promote a greener city. As an example, San Francisco city hall officials decided to close a power plant on January 1, 2011 that burns diesel and natural gas. Citing the San Francisco Chronicle, Planetizen states the closure is a city attempt to curb devastating health effects attributed to the plant, including asthma and cancer. In 2010, the mayor of Washington, D.C. began an initiative as well to keep the city cleaner. Tree Hugger reports a five cent per plastic bag fee for supermarket consumers was imposed. The tax was levied to discourage the use of plastic bags that are polluting a local river.

Locate your community's urban development center. These centers often try to find solutions to local business-related issues. New York's Center for an Urban Future publicized in their July 2010 newsletter the Harlem Community Development Corporation (CDC) approached city officials with a plan to support local entrepreneurs. A 22-block stretch of land once relegated as an open-air market with ethnic wares from small, individual marketers has become desolate since the explosion of national chain stores that came with gentrification. The Harlem CDC wants $44 million in public funding approved to redevelop this mile of abandoned space underneath the Metro North subway tracks. If completed, up to 900 small vendors and fledgling entrepreneurs, who could not otherwise afford retail space anywhere else, could open for business.

Find out if your city or state has a department or agency for urban development. The city of Lincoln, Nebraska does, and this agency has a program called Neighbor Works designed to educate Lincoln residents about the home buying process. The program contributes to community development by trying to make the pride of home ownership a real possibility for people who otherwise would not realize it as a viable option. Neighbor Works boasts over $9 million is invested into the community by first-time home buyers who complete their program.

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