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County Solutions and Innovation Blog​​
Obama Administration Accepting Applications for New Climate Action Champions Competition

Written by Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.

The colors on the map show temperature changes over the past 22 years (1991-2012) compared to the 1901-1960 average, and compared to the 1951-1980 average for Alaska and Hawaii.  The period from 2001 to 2012 was warmer than any previous decade in every region. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

On October 1st, the Obama Administration announced a new Climate Action Champions competition to identify, showcase and invest in up to 15 local and tribal governments across the nation that demonstrate ongoing commitment to cutting carbon pollution and preparing for the impacts of a changing climate.  Focusing on both mitigation and building resilience to climate impacts at the local level, the goal of the Climate Action Champions competition is to help American communities to accelerate and expand their alignment of climate pollution actions and climate resilience efforts.

Designated Champions will receive technical assistance to help support their current and planned actions around climate pollution mitigation and climate resilience.  Champions will also receive help with leveraging existing federal programs and resources, and in certain competitive federal grant programs, the Champions will receive a preferred status to aid in development of new approaches and part...

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5 days ago | 0

Coastal Resiliency: Ecosystem Management

Written by Alyssum PohlNOAA Digital Coast Fellow.


The many facets of coastal resilience may fall under three broad topics: water quality, severe weather and climate change adaptation, and ecosystem management.  Two recent NACo publications, Planning Resilient Water Systems and Severe Weather and Climate Change Adaptation, review county-implemented solutions addressing water quality and severe weather and climate change issues.  This in-depth blog post will touch upon the third facet, ecosystem management.  Ecosystem management approaches can help to alleviate or solve ecological issues, economic difficulties, ineffective decision-making processes and social concerns.  Good ecosystem management demands attention to the complexity of natural processes and social systems, considers geographic areas that may not adhere to political boundaries and emphasizes collaborative decision making and adaptive management strategies.  Ecosystem management is explored here with a case study of the watershed wetlands conservation planning process in Douglas County, Wisc. 

Ecosystem Management:  Coastal Resiliency County Case Studies Volume 3
Douglas County, Wisc.:  Watershed Wetlands Conservation Plan

Six large sub-watersheds in Douglas County, Wisc. flow into Lake Superior.  Source: Wisconsin Coastal Management Program

Located in the northwest corner of Wisconsin, Douglas County is a primarily rural county with a population of about 44,000 [1].  The Fond du Lac Indian Reservation is located just over the state boundary in Minnesota, and tribal members have rights to harvest natural resources in the Trust L...

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6 days ago | 0

New Pay for Success Technical Assistance Opportunities: Learn More on Oct. 24

Written by Kathy Rowings, NACo Program Manager.
Are you interested in Pay for Success contracting (also called Social Innovation Finance or Social Impact Bonds)?  These financing models direct funding to programs that demonstrate success through measureable outcomes, and can be an effective mechanism for counties to implement new programming in justice, health and human services areas.

Local governments interested in developing Pay for Success  can enter a new competition to receive services to identify and develop opportunities to use Pay for Success contracts to fund impactful social interventions.  Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc., a non-profit advisory firm specializing in Pay for Success, has received a $1.9 million grant from the federal Corporation for National and Community Service’s (CNCS) Social Innovation Fund (SIF)—a key White House initiative—to support this competition and provide training and technical assistance to approximately 10 jurisdictions. To learn more about applying for Pay for Success Technical Assistance services, join the informational webinar hosted by Third Sector and its partners on Friday, October 24, 2014 from 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST.

To learn more about Pay for Success and how counties can use this type of funding to support programming, check out NACo’s two-part webinar series: Pay-for-Success Models: Financing Solutions for Counties and Investing in Counties: P...

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6 days ago | 0

Washington County, N.C. Community Leaders Discuss Access to Transportation at NACo Community Dialogue

Written by Andrew Whitacre, NACo Health Associate.
NACo, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI) is conducting community dialogues in six counties across the country. The NACo Community Dialogue to Improve County Health sessions are intended to assist counties in assessing, planning and strategizing current efforts toward coordinating health initiatives to improve the overall health of residents in these counties. These sessions are a part of NACo’s Elected County Officials’ Guide to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps project, which aims to bring together public and private partners to share innovative ideas and strategize about how to resolve various challenges counties face. The fourth session of the series was held in Washington County, N.C. on September 19th.

As a rural county of roughly 12,000 residents in eastern North Carolina, community leaders in Washington County decided to focus their Community Dialogue on addressing access to transportation. As the Martin-Tyrrell-Washington (MTW) District Health Department began to consider the issues facing their county, they noticed high rates of no-shows to health service appointments. After following up with these residents that were unable to make their appointments, they realized that an inability to physically get to their clinics created a high barrier to accessing health se...

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7 days ago | 0

New NACo Report: Partnering in Government Innovation

Written by Kathy Nothstine, Program Director.
NACo has released a new report highlighting how America’s large urban counties are joining forces with private-sector firms to improve government operations, generate new solutions and reap valuable cost savings. 

The report—Partnering in Government Innovation: County Leadership in Action—is released as NACo’s Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) kicks off its annual Leadership Symposium in Ramsey County, Minn., on October 15. 

Large urban county governments provide essential services to more than 130 million residents each day, spanning from transportation and infrastructure to public safety and public health.  In an era of increasingly limited funding, an ever-growing demand for public services and a strong imperative for efficiency and transparency in government, counties are collaborating more than ever with the private sector to better deliver essential services to keep our communities healthy, safe and thriving.

The report features 11 case studies, reaching across sectors such as technology, health care and infrastructure development.  For example:

  • To engage residents in a two-way conversation and provide timely responses to pressing needs, the City and County of San Francisco worked with SalesForce to coordinate social media platforms, resulting in greater government transparency, better responsiveness to community issues and enhanced quality and efficiency of government services;

  • Broward County, Fla., contracted with a professional services firm, Parsons, to manage a complex runway expansion...

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7 days ago | 0

(NACo Podcasts) Great Lakes Planning Guide: A New Resource


Alyssum Pohl, NOAA Digital Coast Fellow at NACo interviews Jeff Stone, Senior Project Manager at the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), about a new website called the Great Lakes Planning Guide. The Guide provides Great Lakes region stories, data, tools and other resources related to flooding, bluff erosion, invasive species, and other coastal concerns. Mr. Stone shares the impetus for creating the guide, a bit about the process, as well as how users can best benefit from the resource.

Explore the Great Lakes Planning Guide at​

Subscribing to NACo Podcasts is simple. If you are using an Apple device, while on your device, click the "Subscribe Via iTunes" button below. Once subscribed, new episdoes will beautomatically pushed to your device. For other devices, subscribe via RSS, or download today's episode directly to your device. Click here for a full listing of NACo Podcasts episodes.


The podcast includes music by Digital Primitives, Christian Bjoerklund, Kevin MacLeod, Broke for Free, YACT, and Gabl.​

2 weeks ago | 0

Community Leaders in Wayne County, N.C. Focus on Next Steps for the Healthy Wayne Taskforce at the NACo Community Dialogue

Written by Andrew Whitace, NACo Health Associate.
NACo, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI), is conducting community dialogues in six counties across the country. The NACo Community Dialogue to Improve County Health sessions are intended to assist counties in assessing, planning and strategizing current efforts toward coordinating initiatives to improve the overall health of residents in these counties. These sessions are a part of NACo’s Elected County Officials’ Guide to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps project, which aims to bring together public and private partners to share innovative ideas and strategize about how to resolve various challenges counties face. The fifth session of the series was held in Wayne County, N.C., on October 2.

Wayne County, N.C., is located one hour southeast of the state capitol, Raleigh, and has a population of about 125,000. Leaders in the county decided to focus their Community Dialogue on using the collective impact model and the World Café process to help move their Healthy Wayne Task Force from vision to action. The Healthy Wayne Task Force was established in May 2013 as a result of a meeting convened by the Wayne County Commissioners in response to the 2012 Community Health Needs S...

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2 weeks ago | 0

Two New Coastal Tools: Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper and the Lake Level Viewer

Written by Alyssum Pohl, NOAA Digital Coast Fellow.
Digital Coast’s two newest tools, the Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper and the Lake Level Viewer, are designed for communities located near the coast.  Both are similar to the Sea Level Rise Viewer (which has been highlighted in this blog before) in that users can explore maps showing variable water levels, socioeconomic data and more.
This particular view of the Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper shows storm surge scenarios at 58 percent opacity (orange and red) and the protection layer (gray) over the natural areas and open space map (green) of Atlantic County, N.J.

The goal of the Coastal Flood Exposure Mapperis to catalyze discussions about coastal flood impacts based on maps that users create.  This tool has pre-loaded layers of flood hazard maps, societal exposure maps, infrastructure exposure maps, hurricane storm surge maps and ecosystem exposure maps.  These layer features can be turned on or off, allowing users to compose, save and share unique and specialized maps with their communities.  While counties desiring more in-depth analyses may opt to collect their own mapping data with a finer resolution at the local level, the data presented in the Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper are nationally consistent, which allows for comparison and peer-to-peer discussion between cou...

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2 weeks ago | 0

America’s PrepareAthon: Preparing our Nation One Community at a Time

This is a guest post written by Gwen Camp, the Director of Individual and Community Preparedness for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.PrepareAthon-header.png
America’s PrepareAthon! offers specific preparedness actions and resources to prepare for a disaster​

Building strong communities through disaster preparedness is more important than ever and counties across America are leading the way.  America’s PrepareAthon! is a grassroots effort to make us smarter and more ready for the next disaster by asking communities to practice what they would do if a disaster impacts their community.  Constituents will often turn to elected officials in times of crisis, so it’s important to prepare now.  County officials can rally their communities to participate in America’s PrepareAthon! by visiting and choosing the hazard most likely to impact your area: flood, hurricane, wildfire, earthquake, tornado or severe winter weather.  On you will find tools to have a drill, discussion or exercise and to publicize your efforts.  Counties can plan a day of action around two National PrepareAthon Days each year: September 30 (the last day of National Preparedness Month) and April 30, or any other day that works best for the county.

Research shows that communities are better prepared to withstand a disaster and reco...

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2 weeks ago | 0

Ocean planning moving forward in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic; Comment opportunities upcoming

MSP infographic.jpgThis is a guest post written by: Dr. Anna M. Zivian and Anne Merwin of Ocean Conservancy.  Dr. Zivian is a former county commissioner for San Miguel County, Colorado and an expert on marine spatial planning; Anne Merwin is an attorney and Director of the Coastal & Marine Spatial Planning program.

Regional Planning Bodies (RPBs) formed by state, federal and tribal governments in both the Northeast (Connecticut through Maine) and the Mid-Atlantic (Virginia through New York) have spent the last several years laying the groundwork that will facilitate the development of ocean plans for federal waters in those regions.  This work has flown under the radar of many county officials, but as plan development shifts into high gear this fall, county officials and staff are presented with an ideal opportunity to get up to speed.  Ocean planning presents a key opportunity for coastal county leaders to ensure their communities’ interests are reflected and protected in these plans.

First, a brief primer – what is ocean planning?  We are all facing increased competition for valuable ocean and coastal resources.  Millions of American jobs depend on access to marine resources.  A healthy coastal environment provides the public with recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat and, in many local...

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2 weeks ago | 0

NACo and NADO Research Foundation Partner with EDA to Support County and Regional Leaders in Economic Diversification

Written by Kathy Nothstine​, NACo Program Director.

Caption for photo: Coal mining operation in Letcher County, Ky. (source)

The National Association of Counties and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation are pleased to launch a new partnership to support county and regional leaders in coal-reliant communities with retooling their economies to become more resilient to changing conditions.  With the support of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, NACo and NADO Research Foundation will assist counties and regions affected by the contraction of the coal industry to identify opportunities for economic diversification and asset-based economic development.

Coal-producing counties represent a significant portion of the population and economic output in specific states and geographic regions of the U.S.  According to an analysis prepared by NACo, 196 counties in 27 states in the U.S. were coal-producing in 2012.  These counties are home to over 13 million residents and more than six million jobs.  Combined, coal-producing counties generate a GDP of over $636 billion, and contribute a significant portion of the economies of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Alabama and Wyoming.  Additionally, many other regions and counties are economically reliant upon the coal industry, whether they house coal-fired power plants or facilities that process and transpor...

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2 weeks ago | 0

October is Youth Justice Awareness Month

Written by Kathy Rowings, NACo Justice Associate.
YJAM Word Cloud.png
October is Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM), and the theme this year is "The Consequences Aren't Minor." During the month of October, the Campaign for Youth Justice will highlight various issues under this umbrella theme, including racial and ethnic disparities, collateral consequences, and the voices of youth and community advocates and organizations that work to end the practice of trying youth as adults. 

YJAM is an opportunity for communities, families, youth and allies to host community-led actions and events that expose the consequences of children being processed in adult court and placed in adult jails and prisons.  Events are happening around the country, such as 5k run/walks, film screening, youth-led art exhibits, community forums, poetry readings and more.  For a list of events and ways to get involved, click here.

NACo’s Justice and Public Safety Platform opposes trying and sentencing youth in adult criminal court, except in the case of a chronic and violent offender, and then only at the discretion of a juvenile court judge.  Most recently, NACo adopted a resolution stating that “NACo supports eliminating life without parole as a sentencing option for children. We support just and age-appropriate accountability measures for children that will ensure that ever...

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3 weeks ago | 0