Career

Dr. Eric Anthony Johnson is an accomplished urban redevelopment leader, consistently delivering results over his career by leveraging a solid academic, real estate, and policy background. By applying strong business acumen and leadership talents, Eric is as much at home building organizations and divisions through his enthusiastic energy, collaborative approach, and trust management as he is in making key contributions to real estate, community, and economic development strategy. Through his firsthand experiences, he has gained a strong understanding of how to jumpstart, build, and turnaround struggling operations and is able to direct professionals and processes to achieve notable results.

Dr. Johnson is President of Urban Regeneration Advisors (URA), an urban development advisory services firm dedicated to providing the public, private and non-profit sectors with the tools, knowledge and strategies necessary to develop and implement solutions to pressing urban economic and redevelopment issues.

 

Dr. Johnson has worked on transformative urban development projects and issues in the Northeast, Midwest, South and Southeastern regions of the United States. He has served in key positions in economic development, housing and urban improvement, community development policy and management and real estate management and affordable housing. Over his career, he has lead strategic planning and visioning initiatives in support of long-term redevelopment ventures, managed program budgets in the millions, created successful micro-enterprise program and loan fund, reviewed hundreds of community competitive grant applications for funding, secured resources for key initiatives, acquired land for key development projects including an emphasis on affordable housing, built confidence and capacity of staff and community organizations to achieve success and more importantly, taken on tough challenges that many would have not chosen to do so.

 

As an expert in urban development strategy, Dr. Johnson is well versed in the overall context of economic and community development policy in America. He has testified before the United States Congress Ways and Means Committee on community development initiatives and has conducted workshops and participated as a panelist in numerous venues related to economic and community development issues and frequently serves as a reviewer for funding for the US Treasury CDFI awards.

 

At the University level Dr. Johnson has taught courses in community development, economic development finance, tourism and economic development, systems and process of public policy, urban politics, public budgeting, American government, urban community in historical cross cultural perspective and the social and economic consequences of capitalism.

 

Setting the foundation for a career in urban regeneration

 

Dr. Johnson’s foundation in urban development and public policy began in the mid 1990’s in two key positions in New Orleans, Louisiana. The first, when he served as a Community Development Organizer trained under the Sal Alinski model of organizing with the Local Initiative Support Corporation where he went on to form community development corporations in the Mid-City, Lower 9th Ward, Central City and Holy Cross areas of New Orleans. This important role provided the opportunity to interact and experience firsthand the hopes and desires of community residents in their quest for living in viable urban communities. For Dr. Johnson, it shaped an understanding of the importance of citizen participation and civic vitality in regenerating communities. Without it there will be limited progress.

 

The second is when he had the honor of serving as a Legislative Aide to Councilman Jim Singleton in District B and At-Large in the City of New Orleans. This invaluable experience provided the opportunity to learn firsthand the workings of both the civic and community infrastructure of the city and how local policy is developed and implemented. It also shed significant light into the longstanding issues facing the city including how the budget process works, key issues and concerns of the business and neighborhood groups and the importance of community engagement and constituent relations are to the governing process. This role also cemented for Dr. Johnson how important aligned local policy development is in developing competitive cities.

 

While he did not know it at the time, these two positions served as critical guide posts in the development of his perspective on regenerating communities in that they both proved the importance of local action and its effect on civic and community vitality. For his work as a Community Organizer the City Council acknowledged his contribution with a Proclamation for working to stabilize neighborhoods throughout New Orleans and for his contributions as a Legislative Aide, the City Council awarded him a Proclamation Naming January 5, 1995 as Eric Johnson Day in the City of New Orleans.

 

Armed with his experience in New Orleans and completing his Master’s Degree in Public Administration, Eric was selected through a highly competitive process to serve as a Presidential Management Fellow in Washington DC. As a Fellow, Eric worked with top policy makers on community economic development issues at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Of particular note, Eric was assigned as a special assistant to National Church Burning Rebuilding Initiative to assist, churches rebuild due to arson or terrorism acts where he conducted on site financial assessments through a $10 million-dollar loan guarantee and grant program funded by Congress to assist rebuild.

 

Upon returning home to New Orleans, Eric served as the Special Projects Director for the New Orleans Downtown Development District where he managed a $1.3 million special projects budget and maintained partnerships with public and private organizations, elected officials and downtown constituents to further the mission of the Downtown Development District. In this role he created the “Downtown Hospitality Ranger” program which served as a cadre of ambassadors for citizens and patrons visiting downtown New Orleans. Eric also served as the project manager responsible for overseeing the contract between the City of New Orleans and the New Orleans Police Department’s dedicated unit for the Downtown Development District.

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