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Strategies to Minimize Displacement: Small Business Preservation Programs


Brownfields—or properties with environmental contamination or potentially contaminated land—are disproportionately located in or near communities of color and low-income communities. Residents near these properties may face heightened health hazards and economic disinvestment until the site undergoes assessment and cleanup, which can be a costly and lengthy process.

Safely reusing a brownfield site is an opportunity to improve community health and bring in new amenities. However, brownfield redevelopment can also exacerbate affordability and displacement concerns. As costs rise and it becomes more expensive to live in a community, lower income residents and small businesses are often displaced. Strong, early community engagement in the brownfields reuse process presents an opportunity for the community to have a meaningful role and input on how to minimize displacement through the cleanup and reuse process. Community leaders, stakeholders, and practitioners can be proactive and put strategies in place to minimize the risk of displacement. These strategies take time, resources, and political will to implement, and they are most effective if put into place before displacement is already occurring.

Tool: Small business preservation programs

To protect and support small businesses, small business preservation programs offer capacity-building services including loan funds, technical assistance, and training courses. These programs are intended to equip small business owners with the tactical financial support, skills, and knowledge they need to maintain and grow their businesses.

Small businesses contribute to the fabric and economic vibrancy of towns and cities nationwide. Small, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color), and women-owned businesses are particularly underserved and vulnerable to economic strife due to institutional prejudices and biases in finance, economic instability, and limited resources and capacity. Small and legacy businesses often face challenges when leveraging investment, in financial and business planning, and when real estate forces cause rents to rise. This may be due to a lack of capacity, training, or other barriers. 

Business preservation programs require an intentional funding strategy and prioritization for areas of the community where small or legacy businesses are at risk of being displaced or are particularly vulnerable to displacement. Prioritization areas include commercial areas and cultural corridors in historically disadvantaged communities, as well as areas likely to undergo revitalization or planning initiatives that often lead to changing real estate values and increasing rents and costs of doing business.

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