Capacity building is the process of developing strength and sustainability. The process helps organizations and communities achieve longevity and focus more on fulfilling their mission and less on survival. There are several different components to capacity building including:

  • Giving people the tools they need to feel engaged and empowered
  • Educating people on different processes
  • Giving people the contacts they will need to succeed
Capacity Building in Communities for Destination Development

Capacity building in action

In Rochester, New York, the Neighborhood Service Center is hosting a Mayor’s Neighborhood Leadership Training Program that works to help residents advocate for themselves and their neighborhoods. This community-driven program hosts three-hour sessions every week for accepted applicants to learn skills to increase their capacity. The goal is to make their lives easier and help them improve their neighborhoods. Members of the program have the chance to attend sessions on topics like:

  • The city’s organization
  • Problem solving
  • Conflict resolution
  • Outreach techniques
  • Creating a website  

Administrator of the Southeast Neighborhood Service Center, Nancy Johns-Price explains capacity building saying, “If you have the tools you need, you become empowered.”

In simple terms, capacity building helps individuals build a skill set to make their life easier.

Improving a destination

So, how can you apply capacity building to your destination?

First of all, capacity building improves communities. Rochester’s Neighborhood Leadership Training Program gives community members the tools and skill sets they need to make their neighborhood a better place. A community-driven mission to improve your destination will make it more appealing to outside visitors. Tourism development and building the capacity of the community should be done hand-in-hand. Through these efforts, underdeveloped communities are given the ability to participate in tourism.

This is exactly what happened in the Corn Hill Neighborhood in Rochester. Corn Hill Landing, an area of nice homes and restaurants, was tired of the deteriorating, overgrown wall that blocked both the view of and access to the Genesee River. Working with the Neighborhood Service Center and New York State, The Corn Hill Neighbors Association pushed for a West River Wall to be developed.

They were able to rebuild the river wall, enhance the area along the river, and provide connections to the waterfront area for the adjacent community areas. Eventually, the area will become a beautiful dining area with playgrounds and kayak launches. The project only recently broke ground, yet tourists have started coming to Corn Hill landing. The community made the initiative happen, and it directly led to an increase in tourism that will continue to rise.

Moral of the story

Increasing the number of visitors to your area starts at home. Look at how you can improve your community’s capacity to help improve and develop your destination, making it a better place to live and a more enjoyable place to visit.