Building Great Urban Neighborhoods. Together.

Economic & Community Development

SD Promise Zone 2017 Economic & Community Development Bus Tour Full Size (50MB PDF)
SD Promise Zone 2017 Economic & Community Development Bus Tour Reduced Size (15MB PDF)

Civic San Diego’s Economic & Community Development strategy is to leverage alternative sources of financing with regulatory community reinvestment and public/private philanthropy to foster livable communities and healthy neighborhoods, nurture small business, and stimulate job creation in low-income communities in the City of San Diego or for the benefit of low-income persons.

Based on the “Quarterback” model that was first introduced in the Investing in What Works for America’s Communities (San Francisco: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco & Low Income Investment Fund, 2012), Civic San Diego plays a key stakeholder role coordinating and engaging strategic partners, including residents and community-based organizations in the formation of new economic & community developments tools and programs.

Promise Zone

The Federal Promise Zone Designation Initiative was first introduced by President Obama during his 2013 State of the Union Address.  The initiative would identify and designate a number of urban, rural and tribal communities as Promise Zones- Areas of high poverty communities where the federal government through its participating 13 federal departments would partner with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, enhance public health and address other priorities identified by the community.  

Since the initiative was launched, 22 urban, rural, and tribal Promise Zones were selected through three rounds of national competition, in which applicants demonstrated a consensus vision for their community and its residents, the capacity to carry it out, and a shared commitment to specific, measurable results.

On June 6, 2016, the Obama Administration announced in its third and final round of Promise Zones designations that the City of San Diego’s proposed targeted community would be certified as a Promise Zone.

As a co-author of the City of San Diego’s Promise Zone application and as an implementing partner, Civic San Diego Economic Growth and Neighborhood Investment Fund has committed allocating up to 35 percent of New Market Tax Credits to businesses that are located within or serve residents that are located within the San Diego Promise Zone Boundaries.

Neighborhood/BID Collaboration

As part of an innovative public/private/non-profit partnership collaboration, the BID/Neighborhood Small Business Access to Capital Campaign has been developed to not only assess the small business capital needs among various commercial corridors, but to be responsive to the distinct capital needs by creating a more robust delivery of various appropriate lending products from an array of participating community lenders (LISC Kiva, International Rescue Committee, Accion San Diego, Small Business Finance CDC and Regents Bank …) and providing advanced business capital training (facilitated by the SBDC) focused on building the borrowing capacity of small business owners, as well as, the organizational capacity of business improvement districts and business associations.

Civic San Diego (CivicSD), as a key stakeholder (the “quarterback”), coordinates and guides activities, rallying stakeholders, and focusing attention on the collective community impact. CivicSD helps to move this approach to economic and community development from theory to practice.  Moreover, CivicSD  partnered with Accion San Diego to form a CivicSD Sponsored Loan Fund to increase lending to the small businesses within the emerging neighborhoods participating in the campaign. In support of the initiative, CivicSD has been awarded three AmeriCorps members, of which they have been paired within Civic San Diego, the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association and the Southeastern Diamond Business District (the “BIDs”) to expand their bandwidth in support of the access to capital campaign.

It’s anticipated that the program will help assist in its first year 75 – 100 small business owners to help apply and qualify for working capital for a combined total of $1Million.  As a result, we intend to capture the number of new jobs created and sales growth of the small businesses participating in the program.

Healthy Communities Initiatives

A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being—typically they include maximizing social impact alongside profits for external shareholders. Social enterprises can be structured as a for-profit or non-profit, and may take the form of a co-operative, mutual organization, a social business, a benefit corporation, a community interest company or a charity organization. 

CivicSD is currently partnering with a number of stakeholders, not-for-profit, as well as, for profit organizations, government and academia to provide such a business model within the inner-city.  To that end, in Q2 2016, CivicSD hosted a Culinary Social Enterprise Community Roundtable, so to examine two L.A. based examples that could be duplicated within our communities.  From this meeting, we at Civic San Diego believe there are spaces that can be activated to both stimulate economic growth while encouraging a healthier lifestyle for its residents.

Playing the role of Quarterback, CivicSD has successfully recruited a number of stakeholders to work in concert to activate community kitchens through a collaborative effort to help launch the “EduKitchen” Program. A program to help build community cohesion, health & business education and food based business incubation. 

The EduKitchen Program will help through community cohesion build awareness of education for public benefit food programs and policy. The program will complement the County of San Diego’s “Live Well San Diego” initiative.  Through the EduKitchen portion, healthy cooking techniques, as well as, business management, food and beverage licenses classes will be facilitated.  All of which will support the entrepreneurial segment of the program that will help incubate licensed caterers to utilize a professional licensed commercial grade facility to generate growth for new and existing food based businesses and provide appropriate food storage for nearby community farms.

Minority Diversity Initiative

Small businesses are the backbone of our Nation. They represent more than the American dream–they represent the American economy. Small businesses account for 95 percent of all employers, create half of our gross domestic product, and provide three out of four new jobs in the United States. As small businesses grow, so does the nation’s economy. Since most diverse businesses are small businesses, they aid in the economic recovery and sustainability of the local economies. In addition, supplier diversity provides products and services to emerging consumer markets. While traditional products and services remain available to consumers, demographic shifts create opportunities for diverse suppliers to meet the needs of emerging and/or shifting populations in the U.S. and across the globe.

As part of CivicSD’s mission to be the entrepreneurial partner of the City, the agency will embark in its goal  to create an innovative public/private/nonprofit collaboration among various local stakeholders involved in Academia, Economic Development, Community Development, Community Reinvestment, Government, and Social Service to help encourage the use of minority-owned, women owned, veteran owned and other underutilized diverse suppliers to compete successfully for City procurement contract opportunities.

The goal of the Supplier Diversity Success Initiative is to provide robust procurement technical assistance in order to build the capacity of diverse small business owners to secure contracting opportunities, create and retain jobs and grow their bottom line.

For more information Gustavo Bidart, Economic and Community Development Manager, at (619) 533-7108 or

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