The National Association of Counties recently conducted its 78th annual conference in Tarrant County/Fort Worth, Texas. The 2013 County Solutions and Idea Marketplace provided the opportunity for counties from across the country to engage and network while addressing policy and program issues they face in their communities. The County Solutions and Innovation Department’s (CSI) - Community and Economic Resilience, Health and Human Services, and Justice and Public Safety practice areas’ staff conducted a number of activities during the event. These activities and discussions provided local leaders opportunities to discuss ideas and engage with their peers.
To view pictures of the conference events and activities, please click here.
The following information contains overviews, highlights and reactions of practice area staff that spent time with NACo members last week.
The Healthy Counties Initiative conducted an advisory board meeting discussing maintaining and enhancing of county health along with implementing the Affordable Care Act. In addition, corporate sponsors had an opportunity to engage one on one with counties in a roundtable event. Health workshops conducted by staff addressed issues such as the County Health Rankings, community assessment and county employees’ health benefits. Another workshop of note addressed whether a county needs to build a new jail and what information and steps elected officials may need to consider in this process. Additionally, county posters highlighting best practices in cyber - security, green government, health and justice were displayed in the convention center exhibit hall.
– Maeghan Gilmore, Program Director
The Green Government Initiative staff hosted a great board meeting, as well as an evening reception held jointly with Healthy Counties Initiative. Two Green Government workshops were also held. The first, on Sunday afternoon, explained the value of data about county facilities when making decisions about county operations. The “Data to Dollars: Energy Tracking Best Practices for Decision Makers” included experts from GGI corporate sponsors FacilityDude and IBTS.
The second workshop, on Monday afternoon, provided a background on how environmental products are labeled as well as a county example of developing updated purchasing policies. This workshop, titled “Dollars Working Harder: Maximize Environmental Benefits with Existing Spending”, featured Multnomah County Purchasing officer Sophia Cavalli and Mark Petruzzi, senior vice president at Green Seal. The purchasing workshop was moderated by the Honorable Kitty Barnes, Commissioner from Catawba County, North Carolina, and vice-chair of both the Green Government Advisory Board and the Energy Environment and Land Use committee at NACo.
Community and Economic Resilience staff teamed with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship to host a three-hour forum on “Solutions for Shale Impacted Counties”. The forum provided a framework of best practices and economic principles for county leaders to use when creating policies or partnerships within shale development areas. Several counties across the country were represented – ranging from those with decades of energy development experience to those just starting the process. Attendees shared local concerns and local solutions with one another through small-group exercises.
– Therese Dorau, Program Manager
NACo’s 2013 Annual Conference provided me with an opportunity, as a new staff member, to meet directly with our members to discuss their issues and interests related to economic development, resiliency, and sustainability. Although I wasn’t in charge of any sessions or workshops at this year’s conference, I spent a lot of my time attending committee meetings and educational workshops related to resiliency, shale development, infrastructure financing, and environmental land use. In all, the conference provided me with an opportunity to better understand NACo’s legislative and structural processes, while also making new and stronger connections with many of our member counties.
– Jen Horton, Program Manager
This year’s Annual Conference served as a culmination of President Rodgers’ Smart Justice Presidential Initiative and featured a wide variety of workshops on justice topics including felony case management, indigent defense, integrated criminal justice partnerships, post-adjudicated reentry programs, deciding whether or not to build a jail, and evidence-based courtroom practices, among others. In addition, a group of approximately fifteen county officials toured Tarrant County’s 444-bed Lon Evans Correction Center, a newly constructed, LEED-certified maximum security jail in downtown Fort Worth to learn about jail construction and inmate management through a peer exchange. These workshops and meetings all highlighted county criminal justice solutions and innovations designed to enhance outcomes, reduce spending, and increase public safety.
– Meghan Levine, Justice Associate
Kathy Nothstine, Program Director, spoke with the Green Government Advisory Board; the Energy, Environment, and Land Use Steering Committee; and the Community and Economic Development Steering Committee about NACo’s emerging practice area focusing on community and economic resilience. This work will engage county leaders and their multi-sector partners bound by a common interest in growing stronger, more resilient, more competitive counties, based on creative leadership and locally driven strategies. Topics to be addressed within this practice area include infrastructure, disaster mitigation, workforce development, entrepreneurship, economic diversification, and land use planning.
– Kathy Nothstine, Program Director
As a new NACo employee, I found the opportunity to interact with county leaders from across the country extremely insightful. The discussions with county officials were not only thought-provoking, but also inspiring in that I am challenged to devise solutions that will assist them in serving their constituents.
– Emmanuelle St. Jean, Program Manager