Capital Absorption

In partnership with Living Cities, the IRI is involved in ground-level research on the ability of particular urban environments to accept and deploy investment capital effectively for community benefit. Mainly focusing on urban areas, the development of a theoretical framework for community investment infrastructure will be paired with in depth case studies on particular cities, issues, and actors to assess the functionality of the model.

The IRI continues to produces papers and case studies to test out the ecosystem hypothesis, and will work with some place-based stakeholders to try to develop an assessment tool.

Recent Activity


Expanding the Geographic Reach of Community Investment: The IFF Case Study (pdf) (November 2013)
An in depth CDFI case study, building on research around the Capital Absorption Capacity of Places, this work looks at the process of geographic expansion for IFF. Capital absorption is described as “the ability of communities to effectively use [private] investment capital to serve pressing needs” – with a focus on understanding community investment as an ecosystem, with many different kinds of actors – public, private, and nonprofit– doing many different kinds of things. This piece provides a way to describe all those things that, along with investors and projects, were necessary to invest for social benefit in marginalized communities.


The Capital Absorption Capacity of Places – A Self Assessment Tool (pdf) (February 2013)
Combining the introduction to our Capital Absorption framework with an assessment worksheet allows interested stakeholders to figure out how their city or metropolitan region performs on each of the functions we’ve laid out.


Working Paper: Putting Dollars to Work in the Community: 9 Things Local Government Can Do to Harness Private Capital for Public Good (pdf) (August 2012)
Leadership from the public sector can make an enormous difference in creating the conditions that attract private capital and ensure it is utilized effectively to build sustainable and equitable communities. This paper outlines some key steps for public sector officials to consider and provides examples of places that have implemented these steps.

Working Paper: The Capital Absorption Capacity of Places (pdf) (March 2012)
This working paper is a first effort to describe the community investment ecosystem as a way to better evaluate and understand how community investment capital is absorbed and deployed in specific metropolitan regions. Part I describes the functions that must be performed in order to put capital to work in underserved communities. Part II offers an initial diagnostic framework that analysts can use to understand how functions are being performed in a given place and what is missing.