Regional Community Development News – December 26, 2011

This newsletter provides a scan of regional community, cooperation and collaboration activity as reported in news media and blogs. Article text is saved to  within the 1000 count Delicious limit. Geocode system and topic tags are assigned.  An RSS feed is available.

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The recent competition for state economic development funds not only netted this region nearly $70 million, but it opened eyes to the benefits of working together across both physical and mental boundaries.

... co-chairman of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, put it: "It was a big change in the way we look at ourselves as citizens of a greater community."

Another name for what Wegman described is regionalism; a concept that has been underutilized for too long. For sure, there is evidence that a regional approach to problem-solving isn't foreign. The Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, which provides public transit service to seven area counties, is perhaps the best model.

But surely there are other challenges that can also benefit from a regional solution. The economic development council - latest example of what can happen when leaders with diverse backgrounds come together with a commitment to reaching a common goal.

El Paso City Council … process of establishing a regional economic development organization and strategy as recommended in a report released last week by a city-hired economic development expert. …

Edward Feser, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Illinois and professor of enterprise at the Manchester Business School in England, … El Paso's lack of a lead, regional economic development agency has left this area with "no clear direction or strategy" for economic development.…

El Paso's model should be the Greater Houston Partnership, which coordinates economic development efforts for a 10-county region around Houston, … Greater Houston Partnership was formed years ago by a merger of three Houston economic development organizations, … 

Mayor John Cook said he sees a "retooled" Regional Economic Development Corp., or REDCo, the private agency now handling industrial recruitment for El Paso, as the best organization to lead regional economic development efforts.

The Haslam administration has announced the next step in the Republican governor’s regional jobs strategy: strategic planning.

Gov. Bill Haslam and Commissioner Bill Hagerty of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development released plans for each of the nine regions the administration has broken the state into. The governor has made a range of announcements in his overhaul of ECD, and the Nashville Business Journal previously profiled Hagerty as he works to encourage more business expansions and entrepreneurship along with large-scale corporate recruitment.

Nashville falls within the new plan's northern Middle Tennessee region. The strategy will include the basics of the Jobs4TN plan, along with training sessions for local economic development organizations, a focus on expansion and recruitment in the entertainment industry, promotion of innovation in inner-city and rural areas through the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and work to recruit tech-savvy workers.

Some of the nation’s poorest counties were spared potentially crippling losses of federal aid in legislation signed into law today by President Barack Obama.

The $915 billion spending bill, which contains fiscal 2012 funding for most federal agencies, provides $11.7 million for the Delta Regional Authority for the fiscal year that began three months ago. The total is roughly equal to 2011 funding.

The authority, which provides economic development assistance to 252 counties in the financially distressed region along the southern Mississippi River, had been facing a potential $1.8 million cut in federal funding.

“Congress wisely decided to defeat the counterproductive effort to cut the DRA budget, and this is clearly a vote of confidence in the many constructive community and economic development initiatives of the DRA,” said Lee Powell, executive director of the Delta Grassroots Caucus.

The Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) Board of Directors visited Southwest Minnesota State University - board members connected with local leaders to learn more about the community and area businesses.

The meeting started with an overview from three leaders representing the local retail, healthcare and agri-business industries.

As a rural, regional community foundation, SWIF is a permanent resource for the 18 counties of southwest Minnesota and focuses resources around philanthropic services; community and leadership development; entrepreneurship, microlending and business finance; regional economic development and advocacy; youth engagement; and the Early Childhood Initiative. Since inception, SWIF has awarded grants and loans totaling more than $54 million in the region.

The Regional Plan Update Committee of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board has endorsed updated policies to improve land coverage restrictions and local governance, ...

The proposed policy updates will be analyzed in a draft environmental study due for release in March and the full Governing Board is expected to make a decision on the Regional Plan Update in December.

Chief among policy changes discussed by the committee were land coverage rules often regarded as restrictive and proposals for the size of projects that could be reviewed exclusively by local governments.

Under the proposed system, only larger development projects would require both TRPA and local government approval.

Limiting the amount of land coverage at Lake Tahoe will continue to be a cornerstone of TRPA's plan to protect Lake Tahoe's water quality- reasonable changes are being considered to remove impediments that have slowed environmental progress.

Indonesia has reiterated its call for a regional solution under the Bali Process to address asylum seeker issues, following the recent boat accident off Java that is thought to have killed 200 asylum seekers heading for Australia.

An Indonesian official suggested here on Wednesday that member countries of the regional forum had not been fully committed to creating a concrete solution, and that the accident should serve as a wake-up call for a stronger and real partnership between those countries.

“The Bali Process has been merely consultative; the cooperation is still pragmatic, limited to seminars and other seminars. It hasn’t produced any real deals,” Indonesia Foreign Ministry director for international security and disarmament cooperation …
“But now after the accident, the Bali Process becomes more relevant. We want sender and recipient countries to more actively look for breakthroughs to tackle the issues. After all we [Indonesia] as a transit country also have to deal with this.”

The Bali Process brings participants together to work on practical measures to help combat people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crimes in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Initiated at the "Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime" held in Bali in February 2002, the Bali Process follow-up is a collaborative effort participated in by over 50 countries and numerous international agencies.
The Bali Process is co-chaired by the Governments of Indonesia and Australia.

China calls on the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) members for further cooperation to boost regional economic integration and promote sustainable development, … 

The GMS members have seen steady economic growth this year, and regional cooperation is advancing and deepening in various sectors, Dai said at the 4th Summit of the six-country Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation group, … 

The summit achieved a joint declaration - the Naypyitaw Declaration and prominent figures atthe summit endorsed the GMS 10-Year Strategic Framework (2012-2022).

"We should take the chance and elaborate on a faithful teamwork to achieve the lasting development of regional economic cooperation," said Dai, adding that the new framework has initiated "a new chapter" for GMS members' regional cooperation in the decade to come.

The first 10-year GMS Strategic Framework (2002-2012) was endorsed during first GMS Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 2002.

While full of praise for the inaugural work of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, its co-chairs said … state funding awards … gave more weight to short-term job creation than the council expected.

The regional council's five-year economic development strategy, which includes 10 "transformational" projects, failed to win one of the "best plan" prizes that went to four of the 10 regions and carried more than $30 million in additional funding.
"The idea was to accelerate the progress already evident in our region. It was to focus more on the long term and in building our knowledge-based economy than in projects that would show a benefit next month," Seligman said. "It's important to realize that many (council-backed projects) were partially funded, creating an expectation for us that they will be priorities going forward."

"I'm not convinced that we lost," Wegman said of the final outcome. "We did it the right way for our region. That's our future."

Come join us at the Charlotte Marriott City Center (March 21-25) for the 51st Annual Meeting of the Southern Regional Science Association. Charlotteě°˝€™s got a lot to see. Our Program Chair and President-elect is Dan Rickman, Oklahoma State University.

To participate, please send an abstract to Program Chair Dan Rickman (Oklahoma State University) by going to the abstract submission website. After logging onto the site, click on 2012 Annual Meeting of the Southern Regional Science Association. Then click on Proposal Submission to begin the submission process. Unless the paper is part of a special session, submit the paper under the track General Papers. The initial deadline for submission of abstracts is January 15, 2012. We already have a number of organized sessions planned but we invite others to also propose sessions. To propose a session, please e-mail Dan at

State Web Atlas - various pages for different topics.

Wichita Falls city councilors meet in a regularly scheduled meeting today to discuss the possible elimination of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, along with several other items as the year comes to a close.

A resolution on the City Council agenda calls for support to the local MPO.

Economic hardships call for programs and spending to be cut. Federal legislation, specifically MAP-21, is recommending the elimination of all MPOs with a population less than 200,000.

Wichita Falls MPO Director Lin Barnett said the program's primary function is planning and finding money to do construction projects and has an average operating budget of $380,000 to $420,000.

"There are 325 MPOs across the United States, and staffers at the U.S. DOT in (Washington) D.C. came up with a process where they look at MPOs that are in population areas of 200,000 or less, and they're targeting those. … we're about 60,000 persons short … We've kind of got our necks out there on the chopping block."

More evidence of growing enthusiasm for this area's future was seen last week at a meeting of local leaders trying to build momentum toward regional objectives.

Elected officials from the area, business leaders, educators and other stakeholders gathered recently at a Tulsa Metro Chamber event to discuss ways to keep regionalism on the radar screen.
It's no secret that partnerships and collaborations between the urban core and its suburbs aren't the norm around here. Typically, such efforts are met with resistance. Those that do succeed - such as the jail authority, library system, River Parks and health department - tend to focus on narrow objectives. 

Though regional efforts have yet to bear much fruit, local and area leaders have been keeping the idea alive through visits to cities where collaborative efforts have proven successful.

Ewing called for "big and bold" ideas and said the key to successful collaboration is harnessing the growing energy throughout the region. 

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce today announced a dual-membership agreement that will benefit members of both chambers and the region at large.

"This agreement represents regionalism, collaboration and partnership in action," said John Bosse, vice president with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. "Members of both chambers now have a better opportunity to engage with potential business partners and customers both locally and regionally. In short, this enables members of both chambers to better grow their business."

As a result of the agreement, current members of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber that are headquartered in the Anderson Township area will automatically become members of the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce; … 

Historically, such agreements have led to increased collaboration between organizations.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has released a draft of its 2035 long range transportation plan. … One of the first things Mitch Daniels did when coming into office was to blow the whistle on how INDOT had basically been lying about its plans. It had promised basically everything to everybody even though there was no prospect of paying for it. ...

.. as Major Moves has progressed and it has become clear that the state doesn’t have the money to complete all the projects as originally conceived

… INDOT has solved the management challenge of delivering on a long range list of projects by simply deciding not to make a list at all. This allows them to acknowledge every community’s “needs” without having any tangible plan to address them. In other words, pretty much the status quo ante. A long range plan where you don’t even say what it is that you plan do is no plan at all. Indiana has abandoned long range transportation planning.

Camden has a ski mountain. Rockland has a cool-looking lighthouse perched at the end of a long, stone breakwater. Belfast has strong university programming. So, why fight for businesses and tourism? Why not bundle and market the whole region as a package?

Those are the sorts of questions that brought several business-minded people together at a table in Rockport on Friday evening.

The new group will focus on economically strengthening the midcoast as a region — not the traditional way, town by town.

“It’s important to work regionally because we are in a very similar area. For residents and visitors to stay in the walls of a municipality [is not reasonable]. We support each other,” said Brian Hodges, Camden’s economic development director.
… Belfast’s Thomas Kittredge, …

“I don’t think there will be many instances where we have to fight over the same things. We’re different enough. Maybe that’s naive — maybe we will have conflicts,” Kittredge told the group.

Multi-jurisdictional intentional regional communities are, in all cases, “Greater Communities” where “community motive” is at work at a more than local scale.
Basic Geocodes - 
0000 - Earth
0900 - Arctic Ocean
1000 - Europe
2000 - Africa
3000 - Atlantic Ocean
4000 - Antarctica
5000 - Americas
6000 - Pacific Ocean
7000 - Oceana
8000 - Asia
9000 - Indian Ocean

"Global Region-builder Geo-Code Prototype" © 

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