"I'm a Brockton boy," said Gomes. "I want to see the city do well."
CDCs have a long history of playing a role in the revitalization of a city. Brockton tried in the past to establish one but they never succeeded. This time, the stimulus award of $150,000 seemed like a good start to get this much needed project off the ground. Glen Ohlund was hired as the director of the CDC and Gomes is its Community Outreach Coordinator.
Recovery Act Impact: Self Help
To that end, Ohlund and Gomes held a series of meetings within Brockton to learn what it is its citizens want and how they can help them revitalize their city. What emerged was that the center of the city, which has poverty rates of between 24 and 40 percent, was most in need of help. The pair decided to focus its initial efforts on this section of the city and then replicate their efforts in other parts once they have achieved success in that area. One of their first initiatives was a business plan training grant to local businesses. Part of the training includes a business plan competition, with the winner receiving a year's rent on a storefront in downtown Brockton.
"We started looking block by block," said Ohlund. "Downtown didn't deteriorate overnight and it won't come back overnight."
The pair have also met with local elected officials to demonstrate the importance of their work.
Ohlund agrees. "The goal all along is to allow greater self determination for the people who are experiencing Brockton."
The goal of the CDC, said both Ohlund and Gomes, is not to be needed. But they both acknowledge that that is a very long term goal. For now, said Ohlund, they want to improve the standard of living in Brockton, provide access to opportunities and create greater vitality in the city.
"We want to make Brockton a great place to live, then businesses will want to locate here," said Gomes.