Regional Community Development News – January 2, 2012

     Multi-jurisdictional intentional regional communities are, in all cases, “Greater Communities” where “community motive” is at work at a more than a local scale. This newsletter provides a scan of regional community, cooperation and collaboration activity as reported in news media and blogs. 

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With good cause, civic and business leaders are riveted on the “border war” between Kansas City and Johnson Co., the effort to lure businesses across the state line with tax incentives. That war, however, is unlikely to change anytime soon. 

Yet, at the same time and under the radar of most people, the two governments work extremely well together. According to David Warm, executive director of the Mid-America Regional Council, “Our metro area handles inter-governmental agreements as well as anywhere in America.”

Ironically, what Warm says we do the best is marketing the entire region to businesses throughout the United States through the Economic Development Council. So, while Missouri and Kansas are competing head-on for business relocations, “Our EDC-is the best of its kind in the country in selling our region.” 

What else are KC and Johnson Co. doing right, … We’re watching each other’s backs when it comes to emergency preparedness. … Homeland Security, fighting crime and terrorism

The year 2011 brought signs of decisive progress for Greater Cincinnati. The economy began to turn around. Projects blossomed in the region from the restoration of Washington Park to a new senior center in Florence. Cincinnati resolved to go ahead with a streetcar. The Banks started taking shape as a neighborhood.

But as we head into 2012, the stage appears set for an even more significant round of progress. Let’s resolve to focus on what’s needed for that progress to happen.
Today’s essays … community leaders (fit into larger themes – themes that are at the core of Greater Cincinnati’s challenge for 2012:

Rebuild our network. This will be a crucial year for transportation. … 

Grow our economy. The developing rebound makes this a great time to grow jobs and businesses, so it’s good that the region’s Port Authority…

Expand our horizons. Don’t underestimate the potential for positive change that the World Choir Games July 4-14 will have for our region. …

A plan to create a regional governing council of mayors and first selectmen from southwestern Connecticut is dividing municipal leaders, with some saying it will give the area more clout in Hartford and Washington and others fearful that it is a step toward resurrecting county government.

The Connecticut General Assembly abolished county government in 1960.
Filling the void is the South Western Regional Planning Agency or SWRPA, a transportation and development-focused alliance currently made up by Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton and Weston.

In addition to SWRPA, … the chief elected officials from each municipality meet on a monthly basis as part of the South Western Region Metropolitan Planning Organization … There is ongoing push within the Metropolitan Planning Organization to meld the two organizations into what is known as a council of governments, following the model of the majority of regions in Connecticut.

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a package of bills that removes longstanding obstacles for local governments working to consolidate services.

The new public acts give municipal leaders greater flexibility to work together. They also bring much needed clarity to existing state law. The changes were long sought by local officials and were called for by the governor in his Special Message to the Legislature on Community Development and Local Government Reform.

"Local governments, willing to share common services are often held back by the very laws intended to help them" Snyder said. "The reforms I have signed into law offer municipal leaders a clear path to common sense collaborations. By reaching across historical boundary lines, dynamic communities are built and valuable taxpayer dollars are saved."

The governor signed the following six bills:

St. Petersburg Times CEO Paul Tash … feels a little wistful at his paper’s name change to the Tampa Bay Times on January 1.

In an interview with WUSF, Tash said the benefits of regionalism far outweigh the traditional name.
Tash says the new name better reflects a newspaper where three-quarters of readers live outside St. Petersburg.

“If we want the entire Tampa Bay region to embrace us, we need a name that embraces the entire Tampa Bay region,” he said.

“In the world of journalism, that name, the St. Pete Times, has been kind of a boutique brand.

“But we also live in the world of Tampa Bay. So when folks move into Lutz or Carrollwood or Palm Harbor, they should be greeted by a newspaper that reflects their own lives,” Tash said.

He also said the decision to become the Tampa Bay Times drives the effort for more regionalism. Other examples include the airport, where destinations are listed as “Tampa Bay,” and the area’s three professional sports teams.

Greater Lansing has taken major steps toward greater regional cooperation in 2011. That's progress worth celebrating and increasing in 2012.

Among the milestones:
• Lansing and East Lansing reached an interim deal to share a fire chief. …
• Lansing and DeWitt Township won state approval as an "aerotropolis," a designation that will help leverage economic development near the Capital Region International Airport. …
• Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth is sharing four state-funded deputies with the city of Lansing. …
• The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission and a group of 40 government and community organizations won a planning grant that will focus regional efforts on a 19-mile corridor of Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue, from Lansing to Webberville. The joint effort reinforces the notion that mid-Michigan communities rise or fall as a group.

Certainly there is more to do on regional cooperation, but 2011 was a year of real progress.

An alliance of environmental nonprofit groups is attempting to set aside swathes of land and water in the Northern Sierra for perpetual protection from development.
The Northern Sierra Partnership — which consists of the Feather River Land Trust, Sierra Business Council, The Nature Conservancy, Truckee Donner Land Trust and The Trust for Public Land — is using a multi-pronged strategy to preserve large-acre plots throughout the northern reaches of the Sierra Nevada.

“We're working to conserve large landscapes,” …

The last 20 years have witnessed a regional transition from a regional economy predicated on the exploitation of natural resources, such as timber harvesting and mining to a more ecological tourism-based model.

“The economic statistics show that recreation is major driver in this region,” she said. “Tahoe and Truckee are largely recreation-based economies.”

The regional authority on municipal shared services says there has been some success with collaborations among municipalities, but more could be accomplished, thereby saving taxpayer dollars.

Dr. Gerald Benjamin, director of the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach at SUNY New Paltz said now more than ever would be the right time to look at joint services.

“There’s a tax cap and resources are very scarce,” Benjamin said. “Having said that and there are opportunities for collaboration locally, the state has to do its share. The state has to address the mandates question and has not done that yet and it’s essential that it do that. You can’t cut people’s revenues and leave them with opposed costs and expect them to be effective.”

Benjamin said Ulster County and its municipalities have had success with shared highway services and counties are studying the recommendations in a report looking at shared county jail services. …

The recent press coverage about the Foxborough casino proposal reminds us all that Massachusetts faces some challenging decisions about where to locate up to three casinos, …

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), the regional planning agency for Metro Boston, one believes that the location of a new casino — not just its size or format — will in large part determine its transportation and environmental impacts, secondary economic effects, necessary public infrastructure investments, and social welfare consequences.

The process of permitting a casino should involve a clear discussion of likely negative impacts, steps to eliminate or minimize such impacts, and the best approaches to assuring that short and long-term mitigation strategies reflect the priority concerns of the host municipality and the surrounding area.

As we prepare for this process, MAPC would like to provide some advice based on close to 50 years of experience in dealing with the impacts of major developments.

It's a daunting task: coming up with a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by 7 million Bay Area residents.

Regional planners are taking on the challenge, holding public workshops this month with five alternatives for the plan being called One Bay Area. The plan will cover transportation and development planning for the nine Bay Area counties through 2035.
The state-mandated plan will have far-reaching implications on how and where new homes and businesses are located.

Another 2 million residents are expected to live in the Bay Area by 2035, with most of them getting around by automobile, …

Planners say they want to steer new development toward public transit corridors and stations and ease reliance on the auto.

Whether the public goes along is yet to be determined.

"We want to get a sense of whether the public wants this region to continue growing in a way it has for several decades, or whether the public is ready for a change," …

By leveraging the innovative assets within your region or in others, you can deliver greater value and opportunities for innovation within your own company.
Innovative Regions

There has been much study of location-based economic development that enables innovation and commercialization, whether the location is defined as a county, metropolitan area, state, or region. In today’s global knowledge economy — where value is derived from creating, evaluating, and trading intellectual products — we can sometimes neglect to think about the composition of the very economies in which we live and work. The fact of the matter is that many of you live in innovative regions. These locations today are often filled with innovation-based assets that can be leveraged for the growth of your business. 

So, how do you make innovative assets within your region benefit you and your company’s goals? And, what do you look for to see what your location has to offer?
Industry Clusters

About Startup Regions

What is a Startup Region?

Young, high growth companies need strong local support, and Startup America Partnership is helping to foster vibrant entrepreneurial communities all over the country through the creation of Startup Regions.

Driven from within the community, led by entrepreneurs themselves, the Startup America Regions are meant to be locally-owned and inclusive initiatives. The Regions enable the entire community to recognize the importance of startups, rampups and speedups to their economy, rally together around the Startup America principles, identify "big ideas" that will really drive change, collectively work together to make a lasting impact, and celebrate their own entrepreneurs as American heroes.

Over "vehement objections from Republicans", Maryland's Governor uses a 37-year-old law to implement the state's master plan. Called Plan Maryland, the plan is focused on controlling the state's rapid growth.

"To enforce the guidelines, [Maryland Gov. Martin] O’Malley said his administration in coming years would leverage billions of dollars in annual state aid. Local governments that encourage dense development in existing towns and cities will be rewarded with continued funding while jurisdictions that do not limit development of farmland and open space may see their state aid reduced," writes Aaron C. Davis, in The Washington Post.

The move is perceived as an important win for the Governor. Numerous Democratic Governors in Maryland had been unable to win support for PlanMaryland However, both the plan, and the way in which the plan was implemented through an executive order, drew widespread criticism.

For the average American driver, the time wasted in traffic jams has more than doubled in 30 years. The best way of easing that gridlock … is public transit.

Yet, as more Americans are sensibly leaving their cars at home and opting for the bus or train, mass transit is in deep financial trouble. “We are going over the cliff,” Elliot Sander, chairman of the Regional Plan Association, said recently. “We will be back where we were in the 1970s and 1980s, where the older systems across the country are literally falling apart.”

Ridership, which dipped during the recession in 2009, is rising again as more baby boomer retirees take buses and high gas prices push more people to try the thriftier option. … 

The problem is, financing for mass transit has not kept pace as cash-strapped state and local governments limit their support. The federal government, which provides only about 17 percent of financing for transit systems, should be doing a lot more, …

Regional cooperatives play a large part in the agriculture industry. Growmark, based in Bloomington, Ill. began in 1927 providing services to farmers in Illinois. Over the past 84 years they have expanded to cover not only Illinois, but – Iowa, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada. President and Chairman of the Board Dan Kelley says the most important thing is cooperatives are owned by the customer. “They have input.”
He says one of the reasons it works is because cooperatives understand the customer better than anyone else. “And they should,” he says. “Afterall, cooperatives are owned by the customer.”

Kelley tells Brownfield cooperatives work at the grassroots level and the benefits of that is bringing the customer quality products, service and knowledge. It also means sharing in the profits of those organizations. That has been a great benefit to the agriculture industry.

Moving forward, Kelley says the future of cooperatives is very bright. …

UC Davis is a powerful economic engine for Northern California, generating $6.9 billion in annual economic activity and accounting for 69,000 jobs, according to research released today.

The economic analysis found that for every two jobs at UCD, an additional 1.2 jobs were created in other sectors of the region’s economy in 2009-10, the year studied. And for every dollar of goods and services the university generated, Northern California benefited from an additional $1.10 to $1.40 in secondary economic activity.

Overall, UCD’s two campuses — in Davis and Sacramento — constitute the second-largest individual employer in the Sacramento region, behind only the state of California.

“UC Davis is a significant catalyst for economic activity throughout our region and across the state,” said Chancellor Linda Katehi. “ …

iTrans SEPTA is the localized regional rail-specific version of a popular native mass transit app with, as Brooklyn web developer Adam Ernst describes it, “three killer features: offline access, live departure info, and push alerts.”
The app costs $3.99 in the app store. Live departure info and push alerts are an additional 99 cents per month, said Ernst, since they “require server-side resources that I have to maintain.”

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0900 - Arctic Ocean
1000 - Europe
2000 - Africa
3000 - Atlantic Ocean
4000 - Antarctica
5000 - Americas
6000 - Pacific Ocean
7000 - Oceana
8000 - Asia
9000 - Indian Ocean

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