Regional Community Development News - Top Stories - July 15-17, 2011

 1. Chamber rebrands Cornerstone: Welcome to JAXUSA - The Financial News & Daily Record - Jacksonville, Florida

Cornerstone is turning the corner to a new brand.

The Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce will formally announce today that the Cornerstone name is being changed to “JAXUSA Partnership.”

“It was totally precipitated from the marketplace,” ...

The full name is JAXUSA Partnership For Regional Economic Development.

Cornerstone is the private, nonprofit division of the chamber. It is a regional partnership that markets the area for economic development.

“We kept hearing from site consultants and others that when we know you, Cornerstone is a great brand, but when you are trying to create awareness of who you are when you are communicating in this country or in other countries, ‘Cornerstone’ has no meaning,” he said.

“It could be any sort of organization and you are missing the opportunity of giving some indication of who are and where you are in your initial contact,” said Mallot.

He said people often disregard initial contacts if they do not recognize the name or location.

 2. Changing visitors into homeowners | The Post and Courier, Charleston SC

Tourism alone won't fuel the Grand Strand's economic recovery, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce said last week.

That's why it's forming a partnership between itself, the Regional Economic Development Corporation and the Association of Realtors to capitalize on the number of new visitors to the area who might, at some point, want to buy homes or businesses here.
Franklin Daniels, speaking for the chamber, said the numbers "clearly show" an improvement in retail sales, average daily room rates, occupancy and enplanements at Myrtle Beach International Airport. For the first four months of this year, all those numbers are showing increases again, Daniels said.

Scott Schultz, the chamber's vice president of marketing, said promotional efforts have focused on new visitors, Internet and TV advertising, promoting the area's value and affordability and on growing air service.

 3. Planner: Foot traffic key to smarter, healthier towns | Burlington Free Press

What's been the most significant development in transportation for the 21st century?

The Segway? How about electric-assisted bicycles? Levitating trains?

Renowned British Columbian author and planner Todd Litman nixed those candidates before a stymied audience ... in Burlington.

The flying car, ... lost out, too.

Litman's vote, projected on the big screen, drew polite laughter: wheeled luggage.

He wasn't joking.

Foot traffic, he said, ultimately will allow Chittenden County to roll more smoothly — and with better health, and with a stronger economy — into the ensuing decades.

... regional advocates for smarter, sustainable urban development.

He shifted between data sets (fewer car commutes generally correlate with lower obesity rates and more prudent investments in real estate) and sacred cows (do electric cars do anything to solve vehicular-propelled issues of safety, congestion, road and parking costs, sprawl, habitat destruction and the sedentary habits of drivers?).

 4. Ron Dzwonkowski: What Detroit can learn from out-of-town visitors | Detroit Free Press |

Detroit makes a strong impression.

"It was far more impactful than we expected," said Randy Miller, a businessman and civic leader in Portland, Ore., recounting the visit of a 55-member delegation from Portland to Detroit late last year. "You learn more from failure than you do from success, and in Detroit, there was so much to learn."


But that's why the people from the Rose City came to the Motor City -- "to learn what maybe we can avoid," Miller said.

Other than being the largest city in its state and situated on a river, Portland has little in common with Detroit. ...

The Detroit trip was probably the most instructive of any the group has taken, Miller, the group chairman, said in a telephone interview in late June.

"We loved it," he said. "It will guide our thinking in many areas. We could see the importance of keeping the central city vital to the region. We could see the value of regional cooperation, the metropolitan approach we have taken in Portland.


 5. Editorial: Rigid labor shields put transit progress at risk | Detroit Free Press |

Bills recently introduced in the state Senate would create a regional transit authority needed to improve bus service in southeast Michigan, create a light-rail line on Woodward and beyond, and position metro Detroit to compete for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal transportation grants.

But the bills also contain some rigid labor protections that would make them politically unpalatable. Sponsors must be willing to negotiate and compromise, or the bills will never get to the governor's desk.

... Regional leaders have tried to create such an authority for more than a decade. It would recommend how to pay for, run and operate a regional system.

Ultimately, the new authority would enable a merger of the strapped city and suburban bus systems. Over the last five years, the Detroit Department of Transportation has cut nearly half its service, as the city whittled DDOT's annual budget from $80 million to $53 million. ...

 6. Douglas Rooks: Local land oversight needed |

Over the summer, a legislative study commission will begin composing a report recommending that the Land Use Regulation Commission be dismantled. LURC — known almost universally by its acronym — is effectively the local government for the state's vast 10.4 million acre unorganized territory, just over half of Maine's land area.

LURC was launched in 1971, and its 40th birthday has not been a happy occasion. Gov. Paul LePage took office pledging to abolish the agency, but the real energy behind this proposal comes from Senate President Kevin Raye, who intends to use his eighth and final year in the Senate getting rid of an agency his Washington County constituents love to hate.

The expectation about the study commission is based on its appointments under LD 1534, approved along party lines, which will be made exclusively by the governor, Senate president and House speaker — all publicly dedicated to dismantling LURC. ...

The real question is what would replace LURC. These are, after all, townships that have chosen not to create municipal governments, mostly because of sparse population. Raye and company say jurisdiction should be "returned" to the counties, which is a whopper. Maine counties have never done any planning worthy of the name, by design. The average town of 2,000 does more land use planning than any rural county, because counties have never been given that responsibility. When the federal government offered money for regional planning, Maine created councils of government and regional commissions. For whatever reasons, in Maine, counties have been confined to court, registry, corrections and law enforcement functions.

 7. Time to graduate to higher degrees of collaboration | Richmond Times-Dispatch

For at least one night, all seven of Richmond's colleges and universities agreed that each is an economic catalyst with tremendous potential.

But no one articulated the next steps on how they could unite to play an even more prominent regional role in driving positive change and adding valuable jobs.

It remains a great opportunity to seize because education and workforce development are clearly among the Richmond region's red-hot priorities. No one is in a better position to lead - to create the foundations for a more dynamic local economy - than are our colleges and universities.

On June 16, the Capital Region Collaborative, working with Greater Richmond Partnership and Leadership Metro Richmond, presented a panel discussion to explore higher education's role in revving up economic development in the Richmond region. ...

What's missing is a broader concept or initiative that links all seven for the betterment of our entire region.

 8. Moving To Greater Economic Strength And Competitiveness

One of the best examples of multimodal transportation is Chicago’s no-mode-left-behind approach. The WindyCity has demonstrated it’s open to multiple solutions and focuses on those that deliver goods and people to their destinations most efficiently

There are a few things required for population centers to succeed, including access to fresh water and transportation. Regions that develop a more sophisticated, multimodal transportation system will have a stronger economy because they will attract more businesses.

For outlying communities and small towns nearby, connecting to major metropolitan regions with alternative transportation is a brilliant self-preservation strategy.

All Together, Now

Creating a plan that integrates all modes of transportation begins with the transportation authorization bill being developed in Congress. By designating a new funding category especially for multimodal projects of regional or national significance, Congress can begin to encourage multimodalism.

 9. Officials have few options | Amarillo Globe-News

The Texas drought has escalated into a significant natural disaster. Around the Panhandle, normally one of the most agriculturally productive regions of the state, acres of dry dirt fill would-be croplands. Lakes' levels are falling statewide. Cities are tightening water restrictions, amid the driest October-through-June stretch in Texas history.

So what can the government do to help those who are hit hardest?

Not much, at the state level, experts say.

Droughts are tricky to manage. Their effects vary significantly from place to place, so local authorities generally assume primary responsibility for drought management. ...

The 1950s drought also spurred the Texas Legislature to create the Texas Water Development Board, in 1957. ... , the current regional planning process put in place by the Legislature in 1997 was partly in response to a drought the previous year.

Kramer and other environmentalists wish that this drought would spur stronger conservation measures. ...

10. Golden Triangle key to prosperity | Editorial |

I strongly support the recent announcement by Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington and Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville to study ways to encourage regional economic development and cooperation between Lexington and Louisville. The corridor between Lexington and Louisville is one of the most important in the state in terms of economic growth potential,...

However, any proposal that excludes Northern Kentucky will unnecessarily limit the vision of the full range of growth and economic development potential that is available within the triangle formed by Lexington, Louisville and Northern Kentucky.

Think outside the box by thinking within the triangle. Be bold. The sturdiest foundations are those supported by three legs. The two-legged approach currently under consideration would be made much stronger by including Northern Kentucky, and would provide a more stable foundation upon which to implement the study's recommendations.

11. U S budget impasses ultimately impact jobs -

If money really does make the world go around, the federal budget impasse in Washington has got planners around the region, and across the globe, on the edge of their seats.

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, a 15-county quasi-governmental agency based in Rome, finds itself in a unique position as a result of what Executive Director William Steiner calls “the chaos in Washington.”

“I told our board when we presented the budget (for FY 12) this is based on current thinking, from this past year, but I may very well be back to you in October with a totally different budget,” Steiner said. 

“We’re a planning agency trying to do planning but we can’t seem to know what our budget is going to be month-to-month. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s extremely challenging.”

Even when the agency knows money is available, the NWGRC is having a tough time finding takers because of financial challenges facing communities across Northwest Georgia.

Even grants require money.

12. The truth about Asian carp | Detroit Free Press |

While much attention has been focused on the electric barrier in Chicago that is keeping carp out of the lakes, the fish have steadily made their way up rivers such as the Wabash, White and Tippecanoe in Indiana; the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers in Tennessee; the Kansas and Verdigris rivers in Kansas; the Missouri River as it threads through Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota; and, lately, the St. Croix River in Minnesota. ...

Bighead carp now have been collected from waters in 26 states and silver carp from 16 states, becoming one of the nation's most difficult and expensive invasive species to combat.

Even now, as a dozen state and federal agencies armed with millions of dollars focus on keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, bighead and silver carp are spreading far and wide elsewhere. But a national strategy created several years ago to fight the carp has no money.

Starting in 2005, a task force created a ...national plan to stop the spread of Asian carp.

13. Six Towns Introduce Regional Affordable Housing Effort - Lexington, MA Patch

Six towns northwest of Boston are holding a kickoff planning meeting next week to launch the newly formed “Regional Housing Services Office,” which will support municipal affordable housing efforts across the region.

The meeting takes place Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Flynn Town Office building in Sudbury, located at 278 Old Sudbury Road.

Bedford, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Sudbury, and Weston established this Regional Housing Services Office as an innovative approach to managing affordable housing from a municipal perspective. The six towns signed an Inter-Municipal Agreement in February which became effective on July 1 to formalize a regional approach to affordable housing, under a new agreement brokered by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) that aims to increase efficiency in administering housing programs and services.

14. Pat Howard: Start of runway work illustrates sporadic progress on regionalism - Times-News

As I use this space week after week to offer my version of where the Erie region's at and where it needs to go, I frequently get pushback from sour or discouraged people that boils down to a simple question.

Why bother?

It wouldn't/shouldn't/couldn't happen here, whatever it is, even if it works in other places. This is Erie.

The day I give up on Erie is the day I'll stop typing. Doing otherwise would make me part of the problem.

... it's useful to pause now and then to consider things that have gone right. They encourage us to keep pushing.

... Erie International Airport's runway... the dogged persistence of airport officials and the civic and business groups that for many years pushed the plan and its potential. ... county's assumption of responsibility for the airport's future, and the related transformation of its governing board into a regional body, also illustrates how the county has been supplanting the city of Erie as the governmental steward of the regional big picture.

15. A call for economic regionalism -

When Audi announced recently it was considering building a U.S. assembly plant, wheels began turning in North Alabama.

While it is far too early to know whether Audi will build anything, much less a plant in North Alabama, the speculation has some justification. Audi's sister company, Volkswagen, recently completed construction of a huge assembly plant near Chattanooga. Its final choice was between Chattanooga and the Greenbrier Road area of Limestone County. ...

While there is room for the Audi plant to join VW at the Chattanooga site, auto assemblers typically space themselves far enough apart so they are drawing from different labor pools. They like to be close enough together, however, that they can rely on the same circle of suppliers.

Whether or not Audi ends up coming to North Alabama, the speculation is healthy. It forces the region to begin making sure that infrastructure is in place at sites that would facilitate a large employer.


16. Development authority receives award | Great Falls Tribune 

The Great Falls Development Authority received a 2011 Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation for the Great Falls Montana Regional Diversification Project.

The Diversification Project included competitive market assessments of the region's work force, agri-processing and energy industries, and potential for entrepreneurial growth. It also included an analysis of the impact of the loss of the 564th Missile Squadron.

GFDA led the effort in partnership with Cascade County and Sweetgrass Development. The findings are being used by GFDA to pursue market-driven opportunities to grow and diversify the region's economy and support the creation of high-wage jobs. The project was funded by the Office of Economic Adjustment of the U.S. Department of Defense with support from the Montana Department of Commerce through a Community Development Block Grant to Cascade County and GFDA.

17. Government, business community gearing up for regional growth plan |

While a request for $500,000 to help fund development of a 40-year regional plan sailed through Chattanooga City Council Tuesday night, Hamilton County Commissioners were not so eager to commit an equal amount for what one termed a possible "blue sky," project.

"I agree we need infrastructure planning, I agree we need smart growth," Commissioner Joe Graham said ... "But considering what we have just gone through, the deep cuts in the budget and the laying off of people, I need to make sure I understand this. If one of those people we laid off calls me and says, 'I lost my job and you had one-half a million to blue sky,' I need to be able to explain what this is."

Chattanooga City Council members on Tuesday voted to commit $500,000 for the regional planning process that aims to map out how and where growth and development will occur in the greater Chattanooga area.

"This is a very aggressive plan," Beth Jones, executive director of the Southeast Tennessee Development District ...

18. Jump-starting the local economy - Northwest Indiana

JumpStart, a program in Ohio funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to create jobs and investments in that state, is developing a regional entrepreneurship action plan in Northwest Indiana.

An initiative was presented to the Northwest Indiana Economic Development District in January.

At the EDD's quarterly meeting on Friday, JumpStart representatives presented the district with a summary of the research JumpStart has done on Northwest Indiana by way of leadership and entrepreneur interviews and online surveys. It concluded in part that there is limited deal flow across a range of technologies, industries and markets. The study also found the region has a limited number of experienced entrepreneurs to mentor startups, but will create an action plan to address that.

Northwest Indiana's EDD was formed in late 2009, mainly in response to the situation in 2008 when Northwest Indiana missed out on $40 million in federal flood aid directed to Indiana. The region missed out because it did not have a local economic development district eligible for funding from the federal Economic Development Administration, which requires a public-private partnership. This requirement necessitated a new organization be formed, despite the existence of several groups and agencies already involved in regional economic development.

19. Secretary of State Mollis' Bill Creating Regional Presidential Primary Signed into Law

Legislation from Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis that moves Rhode Island's 2012 presidential primary from March 6 to April 24 has been signed into law by Governor Chafee.

The change creates a regional primary that will see Rhode Islanders go to the polls on the same day as voters in Pennsylvania as well as New York and Connecticut, which last month also approved legislation moving their 2012 presidential primaries to April 24.

"I've been calling for a national system of regional primaries since I first took office. They can make small states like ours more relevant," said Mollis. "Candidates are much more likely to stop here if they can combine it with a swing through Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut."

20. A Discussion On Chinese Regional Debt: People Are Only Examining A Slice Of The Problem

... concerns over local government debt in China — how serious of a problem is it? ... guest on the show was Professor He Ping, a colleague from Tsinghua University.

One point that I think is very important, but only had the chance to mention once, and very briefly, during the program, is that despite all the attention they are getting, LGFV (Local Government Financing Vehicle) loans are only one of many categories of risky loans that have the potential to impose serious losses on China’s financial system. In fact, in the early days of China’s stimulus-inspired lending boom, in Spring 2009, China’s bank regulators clearly considered loans to local government-sponsored infrastructure projects among the least risky loans taking place, arguing that it made little sense to set aside loan loss reserves against them since they were virtually certain to be paid back. The fact that the least risky category of lending is now generating such concern is itself a reason for real concern.

21. Bankruptcy on the table for Alabama County: Governor - KDAF

Bankruptcy is still a "very strong possibility" for Alabama's Jefferson County, Governor Robert Bentley said on Saturday -- a move that could make for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

A $3.2 billion bond debt related to Jefferson County's sewer system has pushed the county toward the brink, and a rare Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy could have ripple effects in the $2.9 trillion U.S. municipal bond market.
The county is observing a "standstill period" to allow settlement talks with creditors, and this week it finalized a plan aimed at settling the debt to present to creditors.

The debt situation escalated in the mid-2000s when interest on variable- and auction-rate swaps from a refinancing of an upgrade to its sewer system spiraled in 2008.
"If there's any way that we can negotiate a settlement short of bankruptcy, that is our position."

Bentley said he is not open to sending money to the county. ...

22. Alberta highlights energy and environment with Pacific Northwest neighbours | Canada Views

Energy, the environment, innovation and regional collaboration will be key areas of discussion for an Alberta delegation participating in the 21st Annual Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Summit in Portland, Oregon, July 19-22.

“Alberta is bringing a strong voice to this year’s summit,” said Mel Knight, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development and current PNWER president. “Our province has taken a leadership role on issues such as clean energy and climate change, and we have a keen interest in cross-border issues. Our heightened presence at this summit will be reinforced by the many opportunities we have to showcase our province and the work Alberta is doing.”

The annual summit brings together approximately 550 key business leaders, legislators and government leaders from Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. ...

23. United Nation’s Regional Economic Commissions And India - CJNEWS INDIA


While discussing the regional initiatives of United Nations regarding economic development, i asked myself about the true nature of such regional initiatives. Are these regional initiatives truly regional in nature or can they cooperate and collaborate among themselves or with other individuals and organisations residing beyond their regions?

For instance, recently I came across the activities of United Nation’s Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) regarding intellectual property rights (IPRs). I found this initiative really impressive. However, can India be a part of UNECE directly or indirectly?
It seems, although many UN initiatives have been launched as regional, their public private partnership (PPP) model may help in expanding their expertise and scope. At the end of the day, any regional initiative that helps in achieving a global objective is always welcome irrespective of its mandate.

24. Regional Council invests to reduce poverty and homelessness « Poverty Free Waterloo Region

On March 23, Waterloo Regional Council voted to add nearly a quarter million dollars a year to the Regional budget for programs to help end persistent homelessness. The money is to fund programs that Regional staff had identified as very important but that were not originally included in the budget.

It required a Councillor to move a motion to add that money into the budget. That Councillor was Jane Brewer from Cambridge. The motion was seconded by Councillor Jane Mitchell from Waterloo. And it passed unanimously!

Councillor Brewer was actually surprised by the level of support around the table. How did it happen?

In short, it is because many people spoke up to say we want to create a community where everyone can live free from poverty. We want our taxes used to make sure everyone has a place that is home in our community.

25. Combating Desertification By Ranjani Kamala Murthy


Participants from African countries, suggested regional cooperation as a way out (and keep neo colonizing countries and companies out), perhaps South Asia should learn*. A paradigm shift from human development/unfettered rights towards human and environmental justice was suggested by participants with the bottom 25% claiming rights to resources, power and agency and top 25% losing. After all, the pie was limited. Security Councils at the regional level with representatives of poor countries dominating were seen as relevant (African participants), and non party social movements which challenge state, markets, community, institutionalized religion, colonial education, household, marriage and relationships towards justice (to all marginalized groups) were seen as crucial by participants from all countries. Only then will mother earth and human beings be left for generations to come, be able to live without fear.

26. The FINANCIAL - JESSICA Holding Fund Agreement paves the way for urban renewal in Poland’s Mazowieckie region

Urban renewal, energy efficiency, renewable energy and cluster development are the focus of the JESSICA Holding Fund being established in Poland’s Mazowieckie regionThe Fund - which is managed by the EIB - will make use of the European Regional Development Fund.

An agreement signed on July 15, 2011 with the Mazowieckie region establishes a JESSICA Holding Fund for investment in economically deprived urban areas across the region. The fund will redevelop disused military bases and industrial areas, as well as regenerate town centres and residential districts. It will also support energy efficiency, renewable energy and cluster development projects in cities and towns of the region. EUR 40m will initially be invested by the Mazowieckie region, of which approximately EUR 34m is from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and EUR 6m from national matching funding.

27. 'Inadequate’ regional growth fund needs cash boost -

Government's local economic growth strategy has been labelled 'inadequate' following news the second and final round of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) has been oversubscribed by more than three times.

In response shadow business minister Gordon Marsden said the announcement demonstrates 'how inadequate this process is in satisfying the desires of hundreds of firms across the country who want to grow.' He also urged ministers top up the RGF by an additional £200m by repeating the bankers bonus tax.
Business secretary Vince Cable announced yesterday the £950m cash-pot available received 500 bids demanding some £3bn in total. Following the coalition's decision to abolish the English regional development agencies, the fund has been established to encourage private sector job creation, especially in areas whose economies are deemed overly dependent on public sector.

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