Regional/Greater Community Development News – October 8, 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.
Top 10 Stories
How to build regional entrepreneurial communities has just gotten it’s first “here’s how to do it” book. Brad Feld’s … Startup Communities …
Leaders and Feeders
Feld’s thesis is that unlike the common wisdom, it is entrepreneurs that lead a startup community while everyone else feeds the community. Feld describes the characteristics of those who want to be regional Entrepreneurial Leaders; they need to be committed to their region for the long term (20+ years), the community and its leaders must be inclusive, play a non-zero sum game, be mentorship-driven and be comfortable experimenting and failing fast. Feeders include the government, universities, investors, mentors, service providers and large companies. He points out that some of these, government, universities and investors think of themselves as the leaders and Feld’s thesis is that we’ve gotten it wrong for decades. This is a huge insight, a big idea and a fresh way to view and build a regional ecosystem in the 21st century. It may even be right.
Activities and Events
One of the most surprising (to me) was the observation that a regional community must have continual activities and events to engage all participants. Using Boulder Colorado as an example, (Feld’s home town) this small entrepreneurial community …
... Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has focused much of his administration’s energy on job creation. He has chosen to distribute funds via competitive “regional councils” — panels of local officials and academic and business leaders that vie with their counterparts in other regions to receive grant money from the state.
“Why? Because people like to win,” Mr. Cuomo said Tuesday. “Why else? Because people don’t like to lose.”
The regional council system is modeled after the Empowerment Zones created during the Clinton administration, in which Mr. Cuomo served as housing secretary. There are 10 councils around the state, and central New York won the largest package of grants and tax credits last year — $103.7 million for 74 projects.
“If you want to grow the economy, you can’t do it from Albany,” Mr. Cuomo said. “You have to recognize the variations in the state’s economy from region to region, and you have to develop that economy from that region.”
Local officials are buying into the concept.
“Are we great yet? Are we great yet?” Sort of like the kids yelling from the backseat, “Are we there yet?” That’s often a question we get about the efforts of the Navigating from Good to Foundation as we reach the end of the initiative’s first five years.
The foundation was birthed out a Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce Intracity Visit in 2006 as a mechanism to move the region from being a pretty good place to work, live and play to being a great place. A campaign was launched to fund a five-year program and some $3.2 million was raised.
The primary tools of the foundation are coordination, collaboration and education to align and focus diverse efforts into a unity of purpose. The realization of what our community can become by all people working toward a shared vision is the cornerstone of Navigating from Good to Great.
While much of the work is carried out by the chamber, the foundation is a separate 501(c)3 and the program and funds are overseen by a separate board. …
It's no secret that the Washington area housing market is one of the most expensive in the country. With median home prices well above the national average and rents continuing to rise, finding affordable housing can be a challenge for area residents. It's particularly hard when looking for housing close to jobs.
Over the past 40 years, median home values and rents in the Washington region have increased much faster than household incomes. While the median household income increased by only 46% since 1970, rents rose by 69% and home values increased by 144%.
When a household spends 30% or more of its income on housing costs, housing researchers typically identify it as "housing cost burdened." In 2010, about half of all renters in the DC region fell in this category, and 83% of renters with household incomes below $50,000 were burdened. Nearly one-third of the region's homeowners spend more than 30% of their incomes on their mortgages.
On top of that, many so-called "drive to qualify" households, or those households that were only able to find affordable housing far away from where they were looking, have very high transportation costs. According to the National Association of Realtors Affordability Index, the Washington region ranks as the 5th least affordable major metro area overall, with only San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Boston less affordable than our region.
When it comes to ranking quality of life, Greater Lafayette falls in the middle of the pack when compared with peer cities in areas important to young professionals, according to findings from a report released last month by a Madison, Wis., consulting firm.
The findings surprised top city officials on both sides of the river. Young professionals? Not so much.
The city ranks fifth among its peers in Next Generation Consulting’s report “From Good to Great: Making Greater Lafayette a Community of Choice.” Madison, Wis., scored the highest overall and Asheville, N.C., ranked lowest in the eight-city peer group selected by a team of Greater Lafayette leaders.
The Lafayette metropolitan area ranked highest in categories that judged cost of lifestyle, social diversity and employment opportunity diversity. Its lowest scores were in categories that measured the degree of after-hours or weekend activities available to residents and the area’s level of healthy living assets and greenness.
…map by Stamen Design shows the paths of the various Silicon Valley bus services that flood San Francisco each morning and evening peak.  (Linewidth is proportional to frequency.)  All these lines running around San Francisco extend south off the map, duplicating each other for more than 30 miles until they diverge to serve different employers in Silicon Valley. The colors indicate which employer.  In general, these private buses are open only to the employees of the company in question. 
These buses carry some of world's smartest geeks between the manicured suburban headquarters of Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, EBay and Electronic Arts and the diverse, interesting, crowded, messy city that these geeks insist on living in -- a distance of 30-40 miles.
But why should people have to commute such distances at all?  In this case, it happened because a whole mass of companies decided that they all had to have vast corporate campuses that are too big to be in walking distance to anything.  The critical mass of Silicon Valley congealed in the high-car age, as early icons like Hewlett and Packard outgrew their garage.  Stanford University has always sat in Silicon Valley's midst like a queen bee, happy to seem the indispensable center of the burbling mass of innovation.  Since then every new breakthrough firm, from Google to Facebook, has felt they had to be there. 
But now, that critical mass is in the wrong place for the needs of the next generation.  …
Turns out the United States economy grew substantially more slowly than initially estimated between April and June of this year, a torpid 1.3 percent. Lagging growth is not just a short-term problem. America's economic growth has been sluggish since the onset of the Great Recession and even before, so much so that leading economists and commentators like Paul Krugman and PIMCO’s Mohamed El-Erian suggest that America is facing a "lost decade" of economic growth.
But America's overall economic growth rate is essentially a composite of its many different cities and regions. Last week, TIME's Rana Foroohar noted as much:
I think that post election, the economics and job creation focus is going to move to cities and what’s happening at the local level. ... We’ll move from a simplistic conversation about tax cuts versus spending, and we’ll start admitting that we really have no idea why US GDP growth is as slow as it is, and there’s no one way to explain the 2 percent economy (which is really a 5 percent or 0.5 percent economy depending on where you live). And, we’ll have to start experimenting with lots of different paradigms. That will happen at the city level.
It's important and useful to look under the hood of national economic growth, and identify the variation in growth occurring across America's more than 350 metros. Which metros have grown and which have faltered over the past decade? How has the geography of growth changed since the onset of the Great Recession?
  • Introduction
In the wake of the recent economic crisis, many statehouses and city halls face worrying fiscal stress that could have national ramifications. Federal stimulus funding—a multi-year lifeline for state and city coffers—is petering out before tax revenues fully recover and fo­rcing many sub-national governments to consider tax hikes and/or spending cuts that could slow recovery and, in some cases, undermine long-term growth. In particular, funding for infrastructure and education—of which states and cities are by far the primary sources—are under the budget knife.
A particular concern for many sub-national governments is ballooning personnel costs, including public employee/retiree pensions and health care. In some acute cases, this financial burden has swept governments into bankruptcy protection; in others, broad changes in policy will be required in order maintain long-term solvency. And at the state level, the soaring costs of Medicaid threaten to crowd out other spending in the long term. A potential spillover of the eurozone debt crisis or further cuts in federal assistance in the near-term could exacerbate these fiscal woes.
·         How do state and local governments budget?
·         Why are state and local budgets relevant?
·         What's the scope of state and local budget stress?
·         What's the fiscal outlook for states?
·         What's the fiscal outlook for municipalities?
·         What are some troublesome cuts states and cities are making?
·         What are some innovative initiatives states and cities are taking?
Canada is the leading former British colony – that leads even its former British ruler – in the introduction and use of integrated regional systems. As such it has realized benefits that have eluded others. This article will discuss its system in the context of the United States which has lagged Canada since the 1950s. The reason is very simple. In the United States its vast municipal bond market has enabled local governments to maintain the status quo of a fragmented system with little, if any, integration.
It has been realized in the United States that collaborating is not easy as it does not come naturally to municipalities and it is very hard to sustain over the long term in spite of its many benefits. Decades of experience in Canada demonstrate how systems can prosper and be maintained and how different governments have devised their own solutions. As a result, Canada is one of the leading countries where regional governance is practiced. …
Lacking financial capability to build necessary infrastructure in a suburbanizing environment, Canadian provinces have guided their local government to embrace municipal reforms in their metropolitan regions. Consolidation or regionalization or a combination thereof have been the most potent instruments employed to recalibrate emerging metropolitan dynamics to curb the downsides of fast growth. As a result, regional governance has generally taken a deeper root in Canada since the 1950s. The result is that there is less suburbanization, less polarization and less inequity, while cities have been less hollowed out than those in the United States. In the US, this bodes ill for the country since its stands at the precipice of the minority majority era, in which the two dominant segments of the new majority have been disadvantaged both within cities and in the suburbs.
In Canada, local restructuring has been facilitated by…
France’s most populous administrative zone, encompassing the capital Paris, has signed a cooperation agreement with the Palestinian district of Jerusalem, a move organizers say is designed to send a “political message” of solidarity with the Palestinians and their aspirations for a future capital in the city.
The French region described the agreement as the “first of its kind.”
The decision is a blow to Israel’s claim that the eastern sector is part of its united capital. A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry said east Jerusalem “does not exist” as a separate entity and that the French council was “living in a make-believe world.”
The Regional Council of Île-de-France voted September 28 in favor of a “decentralized cooperation agreement” with the Palestinian Authority (PA) district of Jerusalem, making it “the first French community to sign an agreement of cooperation with the Arab part of the holy city,” a statement on the council’s website read. The agreement is to be officially signed during the month of October.
Israel extended its sovereignty to the entire city of Jerusalem following the Six-Day War of 1967, and does not recognize the PA’s Jerusalem district, which incorporates some 400,000 Palestinian residents in Jerusalem and its outskirts.
Île-de-France has earmarked 300,000 euros for the cooperation agreement,…
Extra –
THE BUBBLE AND BEYOND describes how the expansive forces of industrial capitalism have been subverted by today's predatory finance capitalism. How did it all happen and how will it affect us? The answer is a laundry list of issues: What is inflated debt? Debt deflation? Globalization? Privatization of public assets? The mortgage crisis? Bailouts? Fraud? Casino Capitalism? Junk economics and voodoo mathematics? Monopoly power? Austerity? Unemployment? What is the rentier class? Balance of payments? De-Dollarization? Political ideologies? Partisanship? Two separate economies? Is government regulation always wrong? What is the best tax policy? Why the 1% versus the 99%?
Economics has become very confusing and difficult to understand (and out of reach for most of us) because about 20 different geo-political issues impact economic health and growth worldwide, and few are studied in the classroom or given space in the press. There is a way out of the labyrinth, however, as Professor Hudson demonstrates across 20 readable chapters.
THE BUBBLE AND BEYOND is a compendium and brief history of economic thought and why it matters not only to Americans, but to people everywhere. You will find yourself referring to it again and again as a fount of information, much of which has been out of favor for decades and/or suppressed by financial interests. …
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