Regional Community Development News – April 11, 2011 [regions_work]

Note: Abbreviated edition - American Planning Association Annual meeting Boston; American Association of Geographers Annual meeting Seattle in followed by Regional Studies Association Annual International Conference at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. I’ll be at AAG presenting my paper “Global Region-builder Geo-Code Prototype,” not attending all three. Send me your news. Ed.

1. Local officials want a say in merger of planning agencies - The Day - New London, CT, USA

Sixteen area town officials gathered for two hours Thursday at the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments office to discuss various state proposals to consolidate the number of regional planning agencies.

The group held a conference call with David LeVasseur, acting undersecretary at the state Office of Policy and Management, and asked for a chance to make the changes themselves wherever possible.

LeVasseur outlined two apparently contradictory bills being considered by the state legislature and said OPM had been asked to conduct its own study on creating new regional boundaries for the planning groups. That study is due to the legislature by Jan. 1, 2012.

There are currently 15 regional planning agencies, three of which were represented at Thursday's meeting.

Municipal officials said Thursday they felt the entire process was speeding along without their input. …

The current 15 regions were established about 50 years ago, OPM's LeVasseur said, with criteria that made sense at the time - local phone regions, hospital service areas and even newspaper subscriptions. But today, many of those conditions have changed and now overlap, and LeVasseur said his agency is struggling to find new relevant criteria for the consolidations.

At the same time, the legislature is considering two bills that would affect the regional planning agencies. One would reduce the number of districts from 15 to eight, while a second bill would establish six service regions for all state agencies.

Town officials at Thursday's meeting were divided on how the regions should respond to the proposals. Coventry Town Manager John Elsesser suggested the three regions consider establishing one governing entity while retaining their individual "service districts" which already provide valuable regionalized services in the three regions.

Pomfret First Selectman Mark Paquette said the regions should make a case that their current arrangements work and are financially efficient.

2. Free Webinar - The Revitalized Chesapeake Bay Restoration Program - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT

Speakers from the U.S. EPA-Chesapeake Bay Office, the State of Maryland Department of Planning, and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments will explain the current Chesapeake Bay Restoration Program. Bay cleanup efforts have been underway since the early 1980s through a partnership between the states of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. EPA. Within the last two years, to meet legal requirements, the EPA has taken a stronger role in directing cleanup efforts with equal but full emphasis on non-point sources, point sources, and air quality. State strategies have been submitted to EPA and the states are working with local governmental agencies including regional planning agencies in developing local watershed plans to meet EPA requirements.

Register here:

The Regional and Intergovernmental Planning Division developed this as the inaugural session for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Learning Network, the follow-on to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Roundtables begun in 2005. The Division is utilizing the webinar service developed with the resources of The Ohio State University and the Utah APA Chapter. A variety of Divisions and State Chapters are co-sponsors of the service. APA members can earn up to 48 CM credits at no cost. More information:

3. Editorial: Go regional, or go alone? - News & Record - Greensboro, NC, USA

If Guilford County is out of step with the Triad's leading intergovernmental organization, that proves there's work to do on the whole concept of regionalism.

Over the past few weeks, three dozen member cities, towns and counties have approved resolutions to dissolve the Piedmont Triad Council of Governments and form a new and larger Piedmont Triad Regional Council. The added territory would come from a merger with the Northwest Piedmont Council of Governments, which includes Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

PTCOG members Greensboro, High Point, Burlington, Asheboro and Lexington signed on. So did Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Montgomery and Randolph counties. The most notable holdout is Guilford County, …

A good examination of the regional organization ought to occur every so often. Although the state's 17 councils of government have been around for 40 years, many residents -- and elected officials -- may be unfamiliar with their purpose and activities.

… functions are largely determined by the members, which support the organization with dues.

That's one problem for some Guilford County commissioners. Chairman Melvin "Skip" Alston complained about Guilford County's high dues based on population -- $98,000 a year -- even while it gets the same representation as smaller members.

Greensboro, by far the largest city in the organization, doesn't have the same concern, its representative, Councilwoman Mary Rakestraw, said. Greensboro has gained many benefits from membership, including services for older adults, planning for air and water quality issues and PTCOG's key efforts in forming the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority.

"Nobody can do any of these things alone," Rakestraw said. "This is as close to regionalism as we've been in a long time."

It's reasonable for commissioners to evaluate these programs and their costs, but quitting a regional organization that so many neighbors support would be unwise without a compelling reason.

4. My Turn: The Verde Valley: We're all in this together! - The Bugle - Camp Verde, AZ, USA

For me, the Verde Valley IS one big inter-connected community. I realized that soon after I moved to Cornville in 1998, when I joined the League of Women Voters and was asked to edit a handbook called "This is the Verde Valley," as part of the League's national "Know Your Community" program. … The publication was introduced at a reception in November 1999, with representatives of all local governments and the Yavapai Nation present.

At the same time, the League announced its commitment to regionalism and changed its name to include the whole Verde Valley. … Water was the first regional issue chosen in 1999, with LWV-SVV serving as an advocate for studies and public education on water issues and water conservation. …

Land use and open space issues continue to be major interests of many League members …

League members voted to study National Scenic Area designation and municipal annexation issues for their 2010-11 program of work; however, rather than focus on individual issues, the Board began to ask bigger questions: What IS regionalism anyway? What makes it work and not work? When is it important to be regional? When not? What kinds of projects lend themselves to regional approaches? Often regional implications are not considered. Efforts deemed wonderful by one community may not seem that way to others. Is that bad or good?

An idea took form to host a public forum to examine regionalism in action for a variety of activities. The goal is to identify the ingredients - strategies, techniques, steps, tools - that make the difference between success and failure. The League decided to focus on the "practice" of working regionally and hear from more people about more topics - from arts to viticulture!

That's how "DOING Regionalism" became the title for the LWV public forum

5. Conference focuses on collaboration, regionalism – La Crosse Tribune – La Crosse, WI, USA

The message at the 7 Rivers Alliance annual conference was clear: Collaboration and regionalism boost economic output. [ ]

"Our competitors are not Minneapolis or Des Moines or Rockford, Illinois. They are India and China," outgoing Alliance President Karen Dunn said Friday during the signing of the Collaborative Compact.

The compact was based on 11 principles of collaboration and cooperation across the 7 Rivers Region; 36 businesses and organizations signed the document, including Xcel Energy, Gundersen Lutheran and Kwik Trip.

The compact commits organizations to work together to build the economic base of the entire region, not just their particular industry or city.

"The 7 Rivers Alliance is a way for us to unite," Dunn said. "The compact echoes the ideas of the Alliance."

She spoke about work the Alliance did in 2010 to an attempt to create a regional development center and efforts to connect businesses and strengthen the region.

Executive Director Vicki Markussen presented the group's goals and vision for the next year.

She said business leaders have spoken and that the region is a "grow-from-within community" receptive to partnerships and collaboration.

The biggest barrier to that growth is rising health care costs and high taxes, she said.

The Alliance's short-term goals are to help companies get into new markets and grow from within, along with promoting innovation and collaborating with local governments.

"America has 5 percent of the world's population. There are huge markets overseas for our goods," Markussen said.

Local businesses have to be innovative to keep jobs from going overseas, she said.

Also on Friday, the Alliance recognized Kwik Trip and Organic Valley with the Pyramid award.

"This award is to recognize forward-thinking organizations in the region," Dunn said. "We recognize Kwik Trip and Organic Valley for their belief in regionalism and work in the area."

6. Regionalism, partnerships are themes at GCEDC luncheon - The Daily News - Batavia, NY, USA

Regionalism and public-private partnerships were two common themes among speakers at Friday’s annual luncheon of the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

The chief economic development officials in Monroe and Erie/Niagara counties both said the GCEDC and CEO Steve Hyde have been leaders for both strategies. … forum at Genesee Community College.

“You have those in Genesee County because you have the leadership,” said Mark Peterson, CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise.

He said companies that look to move into the area find “an intriguing relationship” among the three industrial development agencies. Cooperative ventures among economic development entities are very rare, he said.

“It’s a tremendously competitive world,” Peterson said.

The Greater Rochester CEO said he envisions Western New York and all of upstate becoming another Silicon Valley, with high technology corridors between Buffalo and New York City and Albany and New York City.

“It’s not easy,” Hyde said, citing the state’s dubious distinction as the worse state in the country in terms of business climate and taxes.

“You’ve got to do something at the state level, on a policy basis,” he said.

Tom Kucharski, chief executive officer of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, said the three IDAs have developed a partnership to try and recruit companies to the region. He said there are about 35,000 IDAs in North America who will compete to land one of an estimated 600-700 new, large business ventures that will create 100 or more jobs.

It’s one thing to try to lure a business to the area but another to “have a shovel-ready megasite,” he said.

Kucharski was referring to the planned Western New York Science Technology & Advanced Manufacturing Plant in the town of Alabama. The GCEDC vision is to bring high technology firms to the location and attract skilled workers from the Buffalo and Rochester metro areas.

7. EDITORIAL: Not a good idea to split the TRPA - Tahoe Daily Tribune - South Lake Tahoe, CA, USA

The Tahoe basin is already a murky soup of acronyms, agencies, jurisdictions, bureaucracies and rules.

So why do some Nevada politicians think it's a good idea to muddle it further?

Today the Senate Government Affairs committee will hear a bill that would remove Nevada from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and establish a new regional planning agency that would only govern the Nevada side of the lake.

But the bill is scant on reasons why this makes sense.

Maybe that's because it doesn't.

The TRPA — favored punching bag of most locals, and sometimes rightfully so — has its faults. But creating two planning agencies on opposite sides of the border is not going to improve lake clarity or make it easier to improve our infrastructure.

Yes, there's a state line down the 2⁄3 mark of our azure waters on every map. But there's no physical barrier that keeps Nevada's activities from affecting California's waters, and vice versa. Each property, parcel and person in this ecosystem affects each other. To ignore this is ludicrous. TRPA is the only agency that unifies our lake beyond the political borders of our individual communities.

Boat inspections to keep aquatic invasive species like quagga and zebra mussels out of the lake are a prime example of TRPA's usefulness. The agency was able to act as a voice for the entire basin and implement equitable policies that affected California and Nevada.

How much more difficult would it have been to protect the lake if one of the two regulatory agencies worked more slowly than the other, or enforced less stringent rules.

The key to improving Tahoe for everyone — locals, second-homeowners, businesses and visitors — is to start cooperating and sharing resources, not divvying up powers among even more bureaucrats.

8. Regionalism knows no geographic boundaries - Mobile Press-Register - Mobile, AL, USA

Sometimes we need a reminder that losing, while painful, can also teach valuable lessons.

"Take the EADS tanker project," Norris, president of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Business Council, said recently of the company's lost bid to supply refueling aircraft for the Air Force at Brookley Aeroplex. "EADS' bid wasn't ultimately successful, but we all benefited greatly from the experience of it.

"EADS chose Mobile because of the combined assets of the Gulf Coast region," Norris continued. "We need to continue that mindset of regionalism. Our economic development professionals certainly practice that every day. If we continue that mindset, I think there will be big projects in our future."

"Our primary role, I would say, is serving as a central voice of the business community and advocating for policy that is conducive to economic growth," Norris continued. "Whether it be tourism promotion, economic development, education ...

"Do we have the tools in place for the region to be in the best competitive position?"

A related research foundation does economic analysis to foster data-driven decisions.

"We use those tools to measure where we are, and that helps us focus on where we're trying to get," Norris said.

The research is critical, he said, because it offers a "level of credibility" to the advocacy positions taken by the group. Plus, he said, it provides a measuring stick for performance, and "what gets measured gets done."

Norris, though rooted in a Mississippi Gulf Coast regional mindset, doesn't mind expanding his notion of "region" to encompass other geographies.

"Status quo in this competitive world we live in is not an option," Norris reminded. "We must continue to promote regionalism and strategically leverage our combined assets."

Gulf Coast Business Council

9. Regional cooperation key to global competition - Lumina News - Wilmington, NC, USA

North Carolina’s All-American Defense Corridor, marine biotechnology research and innovations in agriculture and biofuels are among niches that can help areas maximize business and job opportunities and compete globally, Rep. Mike McIntyre said at a recent job summit.

McIntyre, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and House Agriculture Committee, said the summit was only part of an ongoing discussion about how to address challenges with the economy and jobs.

Regional innovation clusters are today’s model for economic development, Barry Johnson, senior advisor and director of strategic initiatives for the national Economic Development Administration, said at the summit.

While towns once competed with each other, efforts are now being made to work collaboratively to compete on a more global scale, Johnson said.

"If you don’t engage and include, you will miss ideas," Johnson said.

Regional innovation clusters are a great idea, McIntyre said.

"We realize that every single town can’t compete against every single town for jobs," McIntyre said. "We’ve got to work together in a regional way."

An announcement was expected in the coming weeks about a "Growth Zones" Regional Innovation Program in 20 communities throughout the nation that would be funded through a $40 million investment included in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal, the EDA said.

Grants could help government and economic development organizations or nonprofits create support systems for entrepreneurs and high-growth companies building a regional cluster, such as by creating a proof-of-concept center or business incubator, the EDA said.


10. State Maps with Regional Councils and Alternatives by Census Regions and Divisions – Regional Communities Blog

States and their counties or equivalents are the two major political geographies in the United States. National and State data is collected for these boundaries. When it comes to regional analysis, the states are too large and the counties too small. Metropolitan statistical areas reflect major regional economic relationships, but that focus leaves out the non-metro counties. A longitudinal analysis for MSAs over decades is not fruitful, since the underlying composition changes.

A geospatial unit of analysis that is used in many states and could be used nation-wide is the sub-state district, generically known as the regional council. A majority of states have a complete system where the regional council is organized and may be a political subdivision. Long term analysis can be done for these State standard regions. The analyses can be used by these regions for programmatic purposes, such as economic development. Data solutions exist for States with an incomplete system or no system.

Following, by state, in relative geographic order based on Census Regions and Divisions, are maps of regional council regions, the names of regions and a means to get the map and check the organization via a link. …

Note: This work demonstrates that there is a near nation-wide system of regional councils and with proposed geo-codes, they can be used as a unit of analysis. The coding system is a region-builder which enables adding state portions of multi-state regions together to get the second order regional council. It provides as well as for multi-regional and multi-state corridors. A region can be built from existing regional councils to fit the region of the issue. The building blocks can be county, multi-county or state regions. Counties or a data region can be used where there is no organized council. Market regions, MSA, CMSA, etc. – will always be changing. Local government boundaries will hardly change. There is a great benefit to work across them to achieve economy of scale and quality of scale. Alignment helps. Thus the regional council boundaries are communities which should be considered in State legislative and Congressional redistricting. Ed.

Part 1 - Northeast and South

Part 2 – Midwest and West

11. US Employment and Wages, Modern Monetary Theory, Trade, and Financial Reform - JESSE'S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

There will be a sustainable recovery in the US when the median wage recovers in relation to inflation and consumer necessities, and the employment-population ratio rises to some reasonable equilibrium.

A rising employment-population ratio itself is no sign of recovery, if consumers must continue to rely on debt to finance their basic necessities. Conversely, a falling employment-population ratio can be constructive if it is driven by a vibrant median wage, increasing industrial productivity, and excess income as savings, allowing for retirements and more people devoted to non formal employment such as charitable activities, parenting, artistic expression, and elder care, for example. The point is that these measure are not one-dimensional.

As shown by the median wage below, the 'recovery' engineered by the Fed in the aftermath of the tech bubble they created was artificial and totally supported by credit creation and a bubble in housing, with enormous amounts siphoned off the top in the form of financial fraud and corruption.

The basic economic problem in the US economy is related to international trade, currency manipulation, public policy and wage arbitrage by multinational corporations. 'Free trade' interacts with public standards of health, worker compensation, environmental, child labor, and the entire structure of public standards.

Therefore the solution is not amenable to straightforward Keynesian stimulus. This is no cyclical contraction.

It has its roots in the conflict between 'free trade' amongst nations with different standards towards their workers, and various forms of governance. A democratic republic and a autocratic dictatorship do not have the same public policies and attitudes towards the individual and their rights vis a vis the state. How then can free trade reconcile fair wages with what is by comparison virtual slavery? ...

12. Custom search: region, regions, regional communities

To search on topics like those in Regional Community Development News use this custom search engine which utilizes over 1,200 regional related sites.

My name is Tom Christoffel. I've worked in the field of intergovernmental and regional cooperation since 1973. As a consequence, "I see regions work.” It is my thesis that "regional communities” are emerging where multi-jurisdictional regional council organizations exist. This newsletter is research seeking confirmation of this thesis.

Making visible such cross-boundary planning, collaboration and cooperative action at multi-jurisdictional networked regional scales, public, private and NGO is my purpose. "Think globally, act locally" was innovative in its time. Today the local scale is often too small to address today's needs and opportunities. "Think local planet, act regionally,” is my candidate paradigm. No one said we're only allowed one paradigm.

We can see that “regional communities of communities” are organized locally and now act both to avoid tragedy in the commons and gain benefits. An effective multi-jurisdictional regional community has DNA. It is geographically Defined; has a common Name and its Alignment is inclusive of smaller communities and participatory in larger communities. So, by scanning this compilation, reading articles and checking organizations - you too will be able to see the regional communities that already exist.

News references are found using Google Search services. Media article excerpts and links are “fair use” to transform globally scattered reports to make regional approaches visible. Links go to the publisher and do not compete with it. Such publishers are likely to have related stories and thus be seen by new customers. “Regional” is an emerging news category.

There is no charge for this service and no profit is made from its use, though any user can become more aware of the topic itself. Regional Community Development News is published bi-monthly based on researched news reports as of the publication date. It has been published on line since November 11, 2003.

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