Accessing capital is fundamental for a thriving community; however, the lack of available information regarding trends in community development at the county level makes it difficult for communities to strengthen underfunded sectors. The Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization, addresses the lack of information available about trends in community development by gathering and synthesizing vital information and statistics. It created the Community Development Financial Flows data tool (apps.urban.org/features/community-development-financing) to better understand the funding landscape. This tool assesses investment in counties with more than 50,000 residents from 10 federal programs and regulatory supports. The data shows that, while some counties are successful in accessing federal capital, many more struggle significantly.
The Urban Institute collected and analyzed data from nearly 1,000 counties across the U.S., including 12 New Mexico Counties – Bernalillo, Chavez, Curry, Doña Ana, Eddy, Lea, McKinley, Otero, Sandoval, San Juan, Santa Fe, and Valencia. Data indicators include:
- Housing (includes U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] HOME awards, low-income housing tax credit allocations, HUD Choice Neighborhoods awards, and investment deployment by the Community Development Financial Institution [CDFI] Capital Magnet Fund awards)
- Small Business (includes Community Reinvestment Act–reported bank small business lending)
- Impact Finance (includes CDFI lending and New Markets Tax Credit Program investments)
- Other Community Development (includes HUD Community Development Block Grant, HUD Section 108 lending, and U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhoods awards)
- Combined ranking, which is the average of the other four indicators
Each indicator is separated into an “Overall” category and an “Among Similar Counties” category. Large counties have populations of more than 300,000 people; midsize counties have populations between 100,000 and 299,999 people; and small counties have populations between 50,000 and 99,999 people. New Mexico County populations are listed in the table below, and maps indicating county rankings follow. Rankings are based on 982 total counties surveyed, 219 of which were large counties, 373 of which were midsize counties, and 390 of which were small counties.
The above rankings indicate that New Mexico counties largely fall behind other counties around the country in accessing community development investment overall. With few exceptions, nearly every county in every category ranked in the bottom half of national standings. However, when compared with counties of comparable size, New Mexico counties fare much better across indicators, with all counties ranked between 1 and 400 and Santa Fe County performing particularly well across indicators (as well as Doña Ana, Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Lea across some indicators). Notably, Santa Fe County ranks 13th in the Combined Overall category, and 2nd in Combined Overall when compared among midsize counties; and 3rd in the Impact Finance Overall category and 2nd in Impact Finance when compared among midsize counties. Doña Ana County ranks 73rd in the Impact Finance Overall category and 26th in Impact Finance when compared among midsize counties. Lea County ranks 308th in the Housing Overall category, but 90th in Housing when compared among small counties. Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties rank 282nd and 200th in the Impact Finance Overall category, respectively, but 92nd and 62nd in Impact Finance among midsize and large counties, respectively.
What do these rankings mean for New Mexico? According to the Urban Institute, community development and associated rankings are actionable. Local reflection and targeted strategies can improve access to funding flows, with the Urban Institute citing the Community Development Financial Flows data tool as a catalyst for “sparking local dialogue and informing strategy design.” In New Mexico, government, collective impact groups, nonprofits, and more are taking action to effectively increase community development investment across the state. This year, U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham (now Governor-elect) helped pass an amendment to increase funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in New Mexico. “CDFIs drive economic development by providing financial products like loans, investments, and tax credits to underserved communities including poor, rural, and tribal areas.” According to Rep. Lujan Grisham, the amendment “will enable New Mexican entrepreneurs to obtain capital to start and grow small businesses, help pueblos to build affordable housing, and provide access to economic development opportunities for rural communities throughout New Mexico.” Public and private entities have come together through such projects as Innovate ABQand City Alive to support job creation, systems change, and fostering economic development and local talent. Several nonprofits, including our nonprofit education arm The Grants Collective, have begun emphasizing expanding fundraising capacity and forging connections and relationships to build up communities.
In a state where nearly 96% of all businesses are small businesses, New Mexicans are committed to investing in themselves. By connecting with one another and finding homegrown solutions to New Mexico’s community development investment issues, New Mexico’s rankings will continue to grow.
For more information on the Urban Institute’s data tool, community development investment, and questions to guide discussion and reflection, please visit the Urban Institute’s website at www.urban.org.
The Urban Institute, “How Does Your County Fare in Accessing Federal Community Development Funding?” www.urban.org/urban-wire/how-does-your-county-fare-accessing-federal-community-development-funding, 23 August 2018.
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