Economic Development

A New Face for Fighting Vacancies

Some exciting news on the home front: Tamar Shapiro, senior director of urban and social policy at the German Marshall Fund and a Next American City board member, has been named as president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress.

Community Progress, an (almost) 3-year-old think tank, is focused on the reuse of vacant properties as a means of neighborhood improvement. Given her prior work, Shapiro might know a little something about that: While at the GMF, she launched the Cities in Transition Initiative, a project devoted to studying five Rust Belt cities and connecting them with European industrial cities that have dealt with common challenges. The idea is that these older cities have had to face disinvestment and industrial decline before, and can serve as models for recovery.

Shapiro also launched the a HUD-backed fellowship that tracked down skilled, mid-career urban professionals and dropped them in seven different cities for two-year terms in local governments.

(It’s also worth mentioning that this past April, the GMF partnered with NAC to support three journalists who will produce stories on different cities abroad. Look out for the first of these, on civic engagement efforts in Gurgaon, India, next week.)

At Community Progress, Shapiro replaces Dan Kildee, who is on his way to represent Michigan in Congress. As former county treasurer of Flint, Mich., Kidlee earned some attention among urban circles for his vocal support of “planned shrinkage,” the idea that cities should downsize or eliminate struggling neighbrohoods combat blight and population loss.

Tags: economic development, washington, d.c., rust belt, planned shrinkage, dan kildee, german marshall fund, center for community progress, abandoned spaces, international journalism fellowship