and development cannot always be measured by traditional economic
indicators. The community Development Capacity Index (CDCI) is an
assessment tool that provides a framework for communities to benchmark
or evaluate the impact of community development initiatives. It
can be used to assess progress toward meeting community development
goals by measuring change in both organizational and financial resources.
CDCI looks at community characteristics that are reflected in statistics
that economic development practitioners have traditionally examined.
More importantly, the CDCI explores characteristics of the community
related to their community and economic development practices.
assessment includes items that are clearly measurable such as the
total assessed value of property in the community, the size and
extent of medical services, the size of municipal services, number
of law enforcement personnel, fire fighting personnel, recreation
facilities, numbers of banks, membership to the local Chamber of
Commerce, number of employees of the largest employers, etc. To
measure the more intangible activities related to community and
economic development, the CDCI includes a series of yes, no
or donít know questions about the status of community development
initiatives and practices. For example, does the community have
an economic development organization? Does that organization partner
with other local and regional development groups? Does the mission
of the organization encompass more than economic development goals,
but includes goals related to quality of life, recreation, housing
etc.? Does the organization have a paid director? Does staff in
the organization participate in professional association activities?
index value is assigned to the questions related to community development
practices. Although these questions have no correct answer, a value
or score was attached to each item in the inventory of yes/no/donít
know questions. The total score is used to create a measurement
index which is multiplied by a factor related to the size of the
community. The smaller the community, the larger the multiplier.
We know that large communities should be better able to manage initiatives
because they tend to have paid staff to fulfill many of the jobs
related to community development; and conversely, it takes relatively
more organizational capacity in a smaller community to undertake
community and economic development strategies.
numbers themselves may not truly be indicative of capacity in a
community to undertake community or economic development; however,
looking at the index over time allows us to measure change and progress
toward community-driven goals. In this capacity, the CDCI becomes
an effective benchmarking tool.
the private sector, the primary rationale for benchmarking is the
need to maintain or regain a competitive market position. While
many public departments and agencies do not actively compete for
market share, there are other equally valid reasons to consider
benchmarking as a public sector management improvement technique.
most effective benchmarking tool is not just dispassionate examination
of numbers, but rather a tool that encompasses an evaluation of
the processes in the organization (is there an economic development
plan?) that achieve results as well as set outcome indicators (annual
be effective at benchmarking for the purposes of community and economic
development follow these guidelines.
- Understand your community. Know what community
and economic development activities are underway. Understand who
is responsible for the different development initiatives ó local
government, the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development
- Involve all stakeholders. The comparative nature
of benchmarking and the likelihood that no single person can know
about all the activities in the community makes it important to
include stakeholders in the benchmarking process. Furthermore,
involving stakeholders can expand their understanding of how they
fit into the community and economic development agenda.
- Evaluate/Assess both results and processes. Donít
just look at the numbers, sales tax revenue, employment, and income,
evaluate the organizational infrastructure of the community.
- Develop appropriate performance indicators. Look
at only those development activities that matter. Not everything,
in the CDCI is applicable to every community; more likely, there
are many activities that are not included in the CDCI, but are
important to the development practices in your community.
- Benchmark appropriate partners. Benchmarking compares
performance to that community which is considered to be doing
very well at community and economic development. It is important
to choose a like community, that is doing very well and then investigate
what factors contribute to their success.
- Promote a new culture. For benchmarking to be
successful, community leaders need to promote a climate which
is comfortable with the notion of comparison. It is important
for community leaders to not feel threatened by communities that
are doing better then they. The information gathered from this
tool cannot focus on inferior performance, but rather on issues
related to innovative practices. The challenge is to create a
culture where benchmarking is integrated into community development.
login to the CDCI, go to:
at the Internet site, login with an easy to remember User ID. Select
Community Development Capacity Index and begin to enter your information.
Once completed, print the form and seek out others in your community
that may be able to help answer those questions where you were not
sure or did not know the answer. Once you are satisfied with how
you have completed the survey, then enter your information one more
time. When done, click on 'Calculate' near the bottom of the page
to see your results. Select 'submit' to save your information. It
is important that you use the same User ID each time you submit
information. As you re-enter your community information over time,
select "view previous results" to compare your current
score with past scores.
the CDCI is intended to measure change in your community over time,
the Laboratory for Community and Economic Development can assist
you with comparisons to other communities participating in the program.
the CDCI now to create a baseline measure of your communityís preparedness
to undertake community and economic development activities. Use
this tool again in six months, in one year and in two years to measure
progress toward meeting your local community goals.