Looking for ways to build city residents’ wealth

Name: Lomax R. Campbell

Title: Director, Office of Community Wealth Building

City: Rochester, N.Y.

Last year, Rochester became just the second U.S. city to create an Office of Community Wealth Building. And Mayor Lovely Warren asked Lomax R. Campbell to head it up.

At the time, Campbell worked at a local community college, where he used data to spot opportunities for new academic programs based on employers’ needs. Now, he’s spotting opportunities to help residents start and grow businesses, save money, and find outside-the-box ways to build wealth. Urban farming, for example, is on Campbell’s radar for the city to encourage because it offers families a way to save on their grocery bills and potentially earn income selling produce to markets and restaurants.

His job also includes leading Rochester’s work through the What Works Cities Economic Mobility Initiative. Over the next 18 months, Rochester will develop an economic mobility program for residents who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. The idea is to match the federal credit, which often arrives in one big check in March or April, with additional funds spread out so they have income all year long. “What we’re looking for,” Campbell said, “is systematic approaches to change peoples’ trajectories.”

“‘No’ is an acronym that means ‘next opportunity.’ The question to focus on is, how do we get to ‘yes’?”

Celebrating public sector progress and innovation in cities around the world. Run by @BloombergDotOrg’s Government Innovation program. bloombergcities.org

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