Mission & History
To promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown’s business corridors through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development.
Our Work Today
Germantown United CDC (GUCDC) is a community-based nonprofit organization. Vibrant commercial corridors or “Main Streets” contribute to strong neighborhoods. They provide a place to work, shop, and meet your neighbors. Through our Targeted Corridor Management Program contract with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce, GUCDC provides assistance to businesses, brings planning and resources to the corridor, oversees activities to make the corridor clean and safe, and works to attract new businesses to the area. Our organization is actively working to bolster and reinforce the vibrancy of the business district to meet the needs of the surrounding community and attract visitors from outside the immediate neighborhood. GUCDC is also exploring opportunities to strengthen and diversify the mix of commercial uses in the business district, the potential to reuse vacant or underutilized properties, business and job attraction strategies, and available sources of funding to support recommended revitalization strategies.
Our work is focused on the Central Germantown Business Corridor, which is bounded by Chelten Avenue between Baynton and Morris streets; Germantown Avenue between Washington Lane and Berkley Street; Maplewood Mall; and short stretches of important intersecting streets such as Greene Street, Wayne Avenue, and Pulaski Avenue. The yellow line in the map of Germantown demarcates GUCDC’s boundaries. View an expanded image of the map or download a PDF >>
In 2011, a group of citizens protested a heavily tax subsidized, redundant, and low-end development being built in Germantown. While some accommodations were made, neighborhood advocacy groups realized a necessity to plan beyond this protest in order to protect Germantown from continued shortsighted developments – a call for organized protection and revitalization was made. In April 2012, Germantown United CDC answered that call, gaining 501c3 status and a declared mission to promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown and its business corridors through a sustainable, creative, and community driven approach to economic development. In 2014, GUCDC established its first paid Executive Director and won the Targeted Corridor Management Program grant from City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce, providing the resources to hire a full-time Corridor Manager. Our success led to a renewal of this competitive grant in 2017 and with it the continued ability to actualize our mission by employing a multi-targeted strategy to revitalization, including beautification, business development and attraction, and civic mobilization. GUCDC engages with Germantown residents and businesses in pursuit of our mission and is uniquely qualified to meet the demands Germantown presents. Our 11 member board of directors, the majority of whom reside in Germantown, has extensive collective knowledge and experience in urban planning, large scale project management, non-profit leadership, business development, and community organization and activism. Their knowledge, experience, and commitment has guided GUCDC through a strong start, as reflected in our many accomplishments. We’ve gained significant community support and built strong relationships with neighborhood groups, as evidenced by our collaborative effort, and have dramatically increased fundraising success through local real estate developers, foundations, government relationships, and individual donors.
GUCDC’s mission primarily focuses on the development of Germantown’s business corridors. Since our founding, we’ve established a niche in community-driven planning efforts that highlight the importance of Germantown’s rich history, and bringing alternative financing sources to the business community while encouraging entrepreneurship. We have taken the lead with planning projects on Chelten Avenue, launched an arts-based planning project for the corridors, and worked with the Planning Commission on their projects in Germantown. We connect businesses with City capacity building programs through our contract with the City’s Department of Commerce and have developed relationships with CDFI’s (Community Development Financial Institutions) and banks to connect existing and startup businesses to appropriate financing. We recognize that Germantown’s historic built environment and the history it represents is a community and economic asset worth preserving and building upon, as it lifts the economic status of the entire community. To that end, we created a zero-interest revolving loan fund that targets historic buildings on Germantown Avenue, a National Historic District. In general, GUCDC seeks to build upon existing assets of the community, which includes the historic built environment, the resilience of our residents, and the transportation infrastructure. While there are other nonprofit community development organizations in Germantown, economic development is an area in which GUCDC seeks to make its mark.