Regional Community Development News – June 4, 2011

1. This week in history | The News Leader |
50 Years Ago

June 4, 1961: The Staunton-Augusta Chamber of Commerce planning committee was studying a proposal to establish a regional planning commission for the Central Shenandoah Valley.

2. Chittenden county planning organizations merge

The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) and the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO) made history at their May Joint Board Meeting voting unanimously to merge effective July 1st. The board vote was preceded by unanimous votes of support by all of the Chittenden County City Councils, Village Trustees and Select Boards. As well, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Vermont Agency of Transportation each gave their support for the merger. “We applaud…your organizations for taking a leading role after discussion last year in Challenges for Change and working so diligently on consolidation,” noted Lawrence Miller, ACCD Secretary. Brian Searles, of VTrans, said he applauded the “Board for taking a leadership role in responding to the Challenges for Change legislative initiative and merging the land use and transportation planning functions into a single integrated regional organization.”

CCRPC, celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, was created by 15 Chittenden County municipalities in 1966 and subsequently authorized by state law in 1968. CCMPO was created in 1983 as a result of the population exceeding 50,000 in the Census defined Urbanized Area. ...

3. EU: Class War Declared | Michael Hudson
The European Economic Community that preceded the European Union was created by a generation of leaders whose prime objective was to end the internecine warfare that tore Europe apart for a thousand years. The aim by many was to end the phenomenon of nation states themselves – on the premise that it is nations that go to war. The general expectation was that economic democracy would oppose the royalist and aristocratic mind-sets that sought glory in conquest. Domestically, economic reform was to purify European economies from the legacy of past feudal conquests of the land, of the public commons in general. The aim was to benefit the population at large. That was the reform program of classical political economy.

European integration started with trade as the path of least resistance – the Coal and Steel Community promoted by Robert Schuman in 1952, followed by the European Economic Community (EEC, the Common Market) in 1957. Customs union integration and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were topped by financial integration. But without a real continental Parliament to write laws, set tax rates, protect labor’s working conditions and consumers, and control offshore banking centers, centralized planning passes by default into the hands of bankers and financial institutions. This is the effect of replacing nation states with planning by bankers. It is how democratic politics gets replaced with financial oligarchy.

Finance is a form of warfare. Like military conquest, its aim is to gain control of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute. This involves dictating laws to its subjects, and concentrating social as well as economic planning in centralized hands. This is what now is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attack may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight.

This attack is being mounted not by nation states as such, but by a cosmopolitan financial class. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.

Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance and protect finance capital and “the miracle of compound interest” that keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow, until they eat into the economic substance and do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.

This financial dynamic is what threatens to break up Europe today. But the financial class has gained sufficient power to turn the ideological tables and insist that what threatens European unity is national populations acting to resist the cosmopolitan claims of finance capital to impose austerity on labor. Debts that already have become unpayable are to be taken onto the public balance sheet – without a military struggle, needless to say. 

4. Why Detroit's revitalization is important to Ann Arbor (and how Ann Arbor can help)


But perhaps the most important element to sparking a turnaround in Detroit is regional collaboration.

And a key catalyst in that turnaround is Ann Arbor — its business community, its nonprofit leaders and, yes, the University of Michigan.


Ann Arbor, to be sure, is a beacon of metro Detroit’s economy — and that’s not going to change. U-M is a constant source of world-class talent and technology, the entrepreneurial community is growing, the health care industry is rapidly adding jobs and the housing market seems to have finally stabilized.

Nonetheless, Ann Arbor stands to benefit from Detroit’s recovery — a reality we need to grasp. And Detroit stands to benefit from a stronger Ann Arbor.

“By far the most important thing by far is for folks in Washtenaw County to understand that they’re part of the metro Detroit region because that’s still a struggle here,” said Lou Glazer, president of Ann Arbor-based nonpartisan think tank Michigan Future.

5. Chamber's to-do list after conference: At the top is east-west collaboration - Crain's Detroit Business - Detroit News and Information

East-west collaboration was an underlying thread of the Detroit Regional Chamber's policy conference this year, and at the meeting's closing session, it was the top item on the chamber's to-do list.

The list contains goals that the chamber plans to accomplish over the next year.

First on the list: Improve collaboration between east and west Michigan businesses and key institutions.

As Crain's reported earlier in the day, the Detroit chamber, the West Michigan Policy Forum and Business Leaders for Michigan are working together on shared agendas and plan to hold joint meetings at their respective conferences.

Board members from the three organizations met this morning on Mackinac Island, and the three-group meeting is expected to occur annually at each group's conference.
Second on the Detroit chamber's list: Incorporate Michigan's leading and most promising clusters into the regional economic development strategy. 

6. Changes in store for region's economic agency - St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Region, Sun Media - Ontario, CA

Niagara was in an economic storm in 1991 and the clouds were darkening.

A recession was pounding the region, with huge job losses and economic misery.

Unemployment was at 14% — the second highest in Canada.

General Motors was slashing its workforce. Businesses were folding and broke tourists were staying put.

That's when Brian Merrett got the call — "what do you think about heading up the Niagara Regional Development Corp.?"
"I asked the question, 'Why do I want this job?,'" ... "But we rallied and we got to work."

He recalls the corporation playing a vital role as Niagara struggled back to life.
Adversity brought economic players together, said Merrett.
Now, Niagara's economy is again at a crossroads.

And so is the arm's-length body created to bolster its business community.

... on June 22, a regional task force will present a report that could affect the existence of the agency, now known as the Niagara Economic Development Corp.

7. Regional resource hearing set for Rome -

Marshall Forest in Rome is one of the few remaining old-growth forests in the region. Camp Juliette Low in Chattooga County was personally established by the Girl Scouts founder. And the Etowah Indian Mounds ...

Northwest Georgia is home to a variety of natural and historic wonders, including the corridors of the Coosa, Chattooga, Etowah, Conasauga, Oostanaula, Tallapoosa, Coosawattee and Toccoa rivers.

At a public hearing set for 10 a.m. Friday, the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission will unveil a draft plan for protecting and managing these and other resources deemed regionally significant.

“We’ll provide an overview of the Regional Resource Plan, and we will provide an opportunity for questions and answers,” said David Howerin, planning director for the 15-county agency.

The plan is required to meet both federal and state planning rules, and a number of organizations already have weighed in with recommendations.

8. Growth plan must be inclusive - The Sault Star - Ontario, CA

The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario is "a strategic framework that will guide decision-making and investment planning in Northern Ontario over the next 25 years." It "provides policy direction for investment decisions and actions of the province. It also identifies policy directions that encourage collaboration among other orders of government as well as non-government partners." Consequently, municipalities, First Nations, economic and business development organizations, among many others, have a vested interest and stake in its implementation.

On the positive side, I have been asked, and I have agreed, to participate in the Northern Advisory Committee. From the terms of reference for the committee, "the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry ... will establish a multi-stakeholder Northern Advisory Committee (NAC) to provide input into the establishment of regional economic development planning in Northern Ontario. ...

9. 21st Century Regionalism and Global Trade Governance
In a nutshell, 21st century regionalism is not primarily about preferential market access as was the case for 20th century regionalism; it is about disciplines that underpin the trade-investment-service nexus. This means that 21st century regionalism is driven by a different set of political economy forces; the basic bargain is “foreign factories for domestic reforms” – not “exchange of market access”. As 21st century regionalism is largely about regulation rather than tariffs, regulatory economics is needed rather than Vinerian tax economics. Finally, 21st century regionalism is a serious threat to the WTO’s centrality in global trade governance, but not for the reason suggested by the old building-stumbling-block thinking. 21st century regionalism is a threat to the WTO’s role as a rule writer, not as a tariff cutter. ...

10. Bill would overhaul state's economic development efforts - Thursday, June 2, 2011 | 1:55 a.m. - Las Vegas Sun

A bill supporters say will attract new business and expand existing ones, was approved by the Assembly 33-9 on Wednesday.

The measure overhauls the state’s system of economic development and uses $10 million from the Abandoned Property Trust Account to make grants and loans to regional development agencies to invest in businesses seeking to locate or expand in Nevada.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said leaders in the Legislature and the administration of Gov. Brian Sandoval worked together to craft the final version of the bill.

The new Office of Economic Development would decide whether to grant partial property tax abatements for renewable energy facilities and will require a payback if the company fails to meet requirements.


11. Cleaner river to cost $110M - Times Union

Sewer rates in much of the Capital Region could be rising steadily during the next two decades under a $110 million plan to reduce sewage pollution in the Hudson River.

The plan covers Albany, Troy, Watervliet, Rensselaer, Cohoes and the village of Green Island, and calls for sewage treatment plant and collection system upgrades -- including disinfection of bacteria from treated sewage -- to deal with the problem of combined sewer overflows.

Such overflows occur about 90 times a year in the region ...

To pay for the work, rates would go up. In Albany, the average residential bill could rise from $334 in 2013 to $405 in 2018 and $550 in 2023, according to projections

Rocky Ferraro, director of the Capital District Regional Planning Commission, which helped the municipalities create the plan, called it a "balancing act" between affordability and overflow sewage control. The affected sewer systems cover about 150,000 customers.

More bookmarks:

Regional Communities - "Think Local Planet, Act Regionally."