Delray CRA shifts away from traditional role to help businesses thrive
The Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency is shifting its focus from its old model — improving infrastructure — to attracting new businesses and keeping established businesses alive during a sluggish economy.
And it’s catching on. The Boynton Beach CRA is offering similar programs and in Boca Raton, officials hope several projects have the same economic development effect.
“A lot of it is to create a healthy economic environment,” said Delray Beach CRA Executive Director Diane Colonna. “Infrastructure improvement is really intended to attract private investment. It’s not just to make things look better.”
Since 2009, Delray Beach has been aggressively developing incentives that can attract and retain businesses. It amended its redevelopment plan — buying and refurbishing homes, repairing sidewalks, improving street lighting, and fixing parks — to include economic development as a tool to drive out blight.
Frank Schnidman, director of the Center for Urban Redevelopment Education at Florida Atlantic University, said many agencies statewide are funding programs such as Delray Beach’s, even when there are federal and state agencies such as tourist development or economic development councils already funding such projects.