The process of community development (CD) is typically focused on enhancing the quality of life for everyone who lives and works within a community. A number of strategies may be used to work toward this goal of a better life, including the improvement of public services, creating incentives for new businesses to move into the area and generate additional jobs, and even identifying ways to protect the environment and make the community more desirable in terms of the ecology. With all types of community development programs, there are some challenges of community development that are likely to appear, especially in terms of finding ways to engage the current population in the task, securing funding for the efforts, and prioritizing the activities deemed necessary to bring improvement to the community.
One of the more common challenges of community development has to do with gaining the support of a significant number of residents in making the necessary changes that lead to the improvement of life in the community. This is easily exemplified in the case of urban development projects in which efforts are made to reverse decline in older neighborhoods or even downtown business districts that were once thriving but are currently seen as undesirable. Without the willingness of those who remain in those areas to participate in initiatives designed to restore community pride and aid in attracting new residents and businesses, the possibility of anything changing is extremely slim.
Another of the challenges of community development is securing the resources to help bring about the changes necessary to implement the programs that will bring about renewal or even new development within an area. Securing funds from governmental sources as well as private funding helps to create a foundation for implementing new programs that enhance life in the community. In addition, other resources such as tax incentives that attract attention and motivate individuals and businesses to move into the area are also important. Even an initiative that draws on activities sponsored by social institutions based in the community will make a significant difference in the effort to improve circumstances for everyone involved.
Typically, the challenges of community development will include finding ways to creatively pursue several different initiatives as part of the overall plan to achieve growth within the area. While some initiatives may be easily pursued concurrently, there are situations in which decisions must be made in terms of which projects should have priority over others. This is especially true when funding and other resources are limited. Challenges of community development that relate to prioritizing initiatives and projects are common in just about any setting, ranging from urban to suburban and even rural efforts to develop communities. When this is the case, projecting the outcome of each project and its impact on the community at large will often help to put each initiative into perspective, provide clues as to how launching one project could make another one easier to manage, and allow planners to create a plan for logically progressing from one project to the next in a manner that makes the best possible use of available resources.