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County Solutions and Innovation Blog​​
Nye County: Revitalizing Brownfields in Rural NevadaNew

​Before and after of a Nye County brownfields redevelopment site.  Source: Nye County

As part of NACo’s commitment to enhancing economic prospects in America’s rural counties, we are releasing a series of blog posts that highlight economic development in rural places.  These blog posts, adapted from case studies featured in the recent NACo publication, Cultivating a Competitive Advantage: How Rural Counties are Growing Economies with Local Assets and Regional Partners, share innovative best practices exemplified by rural counties.

Nye County, Nev., is the third-largest county by land area in the U.S., but is home to fewer than 43,000 residents.  Approximately 98 percent of the county is public lands, including the Nevada Test Site for nuclear testing and the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

Given the limited amount of developable land available, the county has pursued brownfields redevelopment as an economic development strategy, starting with a 2002 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Programgrant.  The county used the 2002 grant and two additional 2005 grants, totaling $600,000, to assess 25 sites for reuse potential.  These sites included former gold mines, abandoned commercial buildings, livestock show facilities and a portion of the Tonopah Airport.  Since Nye County began its brownfields work, sites have been repurposed for various uses including a farmers market, t...

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2 days ago | 0

Linn County, Iowa, and Knox County, Tenn., Recognized for Accomplishments in the Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties CampaignNew

Written by Andrew Whitacre, NACo Health Associate. 
The National League of Cities (NLC) recognizes local jurisdictions with medals for achieving key health and wellness goals as part of the Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC) campaign, which is a component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative. LMCTC calls upon local elected officials to adopt sustainable and holistic policies that improve communities’ access to healthy affordable food and opportunities for physical activity through five goal areas. Medals are awarded to local jurisdictions, ranging from bronze to gold, for reaching certain established milestones within each goal area. Two counties, Linn County, Iowa, and Knox County, Tenn., were awarded gold medals for all five goal areas.

All LMCTC sites have the opportunity to earn up to five gold medals, one for each actionable goal to which they commit as part of the initiative. Medals are awarded to local elected officials based on achievements in each of the following five goal areas:

  • Goal I: Start Early, Start Smart. Promoting best practices for nutrition, physical activity and screen time in early care and education settings. Click here for more information about Goal I.
  • Goal II: My Plate, Your Place. Prominently displaying MyPlate in all municipal or county venues where food is served. Click herefor more information...
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3 days ago | 0

Severe Weather Adaptation County Case StudiesNew

Written by Alyssum Pohl, NOAA Digital Coast Fellow.
Changes in weather patterns affect the country in a variety of ways, and the second NACo Coastal Resiliency County Case Studies publication focuses on three coastal counties’ adaptation strategies to the issues that many counties experience.  

Monmouth County, N.J., which was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, created a county-lead assistance program to aid communities within the county with applications for the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System (CRS).  This program decreases communities’ insurance costs, improves flood mitigation and has lead to an increase of participation in CRS from 15 percent to 50 percent of the county’s municipalities.

Hazard mitigation plans must be updated regularly in order for counties to remain eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance.  When Monterey County, Ca., recently updated their hazard mitigation plan, they utilized the Digital Coast​ resource in order to help shape the planning process, increase public awareness about hazards, further the protection of natural systems, reinforce existing assets and integrate hazard mitigation principles into local plans and future development.  

Calvert County, Md., is one of many counties in...

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3 days ago | 0

Hood River County: Marketing Local Goods and Economic Strengths


As part of NACo’s commitment to enhancing economic prospects in America’s rural counties, NACo is releasing a series of blog posts that highlight economic development in rural places.  These blog posts, adapted from case studies featured in the recent NACo publication, Cultivating a Competitive Advantage: How Rural Counties are Growing Economies with Local Assets and Regional Partners, share innovative best practices exemplified by rural counties.

With a population of 22,675, Hood River County, Ore. has successfully capitalized on its agricultural traditions and unique identity to encourage economic growth.  There are two local assets that are especially important for marketing the Hood River brand: the Fruit Loop and the Port of Hood River.  The Fruit Loop is a 35-mile network of growers that produce high quality goods and bolster the economy through food stands, restaurants and tours.  John Stehlik, the Cellar Manager of the Mt. Hood Winery, described how the establishment of the Fruit Loop helped grow employment and tourism, and added that the region “thrives on a sense of place and community.”  County Commissioner Maui Meyer explained that county leaders were instrumental in realizing both the institutional and cultural worth of the Fruit Loop.

Another important local asset is the Port of Hood River, an industrial and commerci...

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5 days ago | 0

2014 Midterm Election Analysis

Details How the Election Could Impact County Priorities 


Click here to view the presentation​

The 2014 midterm elections have shifted the political balance in Washington, and despite a handful of unresolved races still pending, Republicans are poised to control both chambers of Congress in 2015. NACo has broken down the election results and provided analysis to prepare county officials for the lame duck period and beyond.
In the com​ing weeks, Congress could tackle a number of issues that would impact counties including FY 2015 appropriations, Marketplace Fairness Act and the Internet Tax Freedom Act, tax extenders, and funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) programs.

Also learn how the new Congress could address important issues like tax and entitlement reform, transportation funding and reauthorization, and regulatory issues including the “Waters of the U.S.” proposed rule.

The NACo Analysis Examines:
  • How County Federal Legislative and Policy Priorities Could be Impacted by the Elections
  • U.S. Senate Elections 
  • U.S. House of Representatives Elections 
  • Gubernatorial Elections 
  • State Legislature Races and State Ballot Initiatives 
  • Former County Officials in the 114th Congress​
Contact: Deborah Cox at​ or 202.942.4286

9 days ago | 0

New NACo Issue Brief: Improving Lifelines: Protecting Critical Infrastructure for Resilient Counties

Written by Rob Pressly, NACo Program Manager.

Flooding can damage county roads, hindering emergency response crews’ ability to assist those in need, and disrupting normal business operations.

There are a myriad of high-impact disruptions that counties across the country face each and every day.  Ranging from natural disasters to structural failures to economic downturns, these events can impact natural environments and cause damage to homes or businesses.  Not only do extreme events like hurricanes, floods, tornados and fires threaten the financial health of counties all across the country, they threaten critical infrastructure known as lifelines, which are necessary for counties to function and provide vital services to the public. It is imperative for counties to understand the risks that weather-related events or economic downturns pose to their lifelines.

NACo has recently released a new issue brief addressing this topic.  Improving Lifelines: Protecting Critical Infrastructure for Resilient Counties serves as a guide for county leaders to help them understand the vulnerabilities of and threats to critical infrastructure in their county.  By having a better understanding of the interconnectedness of lifelines, and how damages to one sector can cascade and affect others, county leaders will be better prepared to address vulnerabilities in their county and protect their lifelines.

Featuring ca...

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2 weeks ago | 0

(NACo Podcasts) Cybersecurity: Voices of the County


As we approach the age of cyber everything, whether in our smart devices, our homes, our business or our government, life in America’s counties is becoming more connected to the internet. NACo continues to be on the forefront of bringing cybersecurity awareness to counties. Today we hear three different stories concerning cyber, and the experts joining share their experiences and opinions around cybersecurity in counties.

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 be automatically 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.

2 weeks ago | 0

Leaders in Fulton County Bring Together Diverse Community Stakeholders in NACo Community Health 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), has conducted 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 sixth and final session of the series was held in Fulton County, Ga., on October 30.

Fulton-County-Comm.jpgFulton County Commissioner and NACo Healthy Counties Advisory Board Chair Joan P. Garner with keynote speaker Dr. Reuben Warren, Director of the Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care.
With leadership from Fulton County Commissioner Joan P. Garner and her staff, Fulton County Director of Health Services Dr. Patrice Harris and the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, a broad coalition of stakeholders from across the county were brought together to hear from experts on...
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2 weeks ago | 0

New NACo Report: Cultivating a Competitive Advantage in Rural Counties

Written by Jen Horton, Program Manager.
NACo recently released a new report highlighting how rural counties are pursuing asset-based economic development initiatives that create jobs and build wealth while preserving rural landscapes, cultural and heritage.   

The report— Cultivating a Competitive Advantage: How Rural Counties are Growing Economies with Local Assets and Regional Partners—is released as NACo’s Rural Action Caucus (RAC) kicks off its annual meeting in Yellowstone County, Mont., on November 6.

Rural places have traditionally provided the food, natural resources and energy needed to fuel our country, while also supporting tourism, cultural resources and growing knowledge industries.  However, rural counties—whether facing challenges related to shifting economic trends, population decline, lack of access to metropolitan areas or losses in traditional industries—sometimes struggle to sustain economic growth.  To address these challenges, counties are focusing on their existing assets, not deficits, to strengthen economic competitiveness and enhance quality of life.

NACo has produced an interactive companion map for the report, seen above. To access the map, click here.

The report features 15 rural counties that are finding innovative ways to leverage assets to sustain economic growth and productivity.  For example:

  • Hood River County (Ore.) markets its high-quality agricultural products and other place-based economic strengths to encourage a unique sense of place, attract tourism and increase employment; 

  • In sou...

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2 weeks ago | 0

Upcoming NACo Webinar on Cogeneration Opportunities for Counties

​Written by Rob Pressly, NACo Program Manager.

Image by Flickr user Green Energy Futures.

Combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is a method whereby energy is produced, and excess heat from the production process can be used for heating and cooling processes. CHP can also be used in the conversion of landfill methane gas to energy. Commonly used in facilities that need continual electrical and heating/cooling needs such as hospitals, police and fire stations, jails and water treatment facilities, CHP can allow counties to lower their environmental impact through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, while saving money on energy costs. County facilities taking advantage of CHP can also be better prepared to stay powered during disruptions to the energy grid, making them more resilient for unforeseen events.

King County, Wash. employs combined heat and power at two of its water treatment facilities. The West Point Treatment Plant, the largest CHP facility in the State of Washington, has been using naturally occurring methane from the water treatment process to generate heat and power sewage pumps since 1966. Since 1983, the county has also been using methane to generate electricity to power the treatment plant. The county has also sold excess power ...

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2 weeks ago | 0

(NACo Podcasts) The Importance of Quality Indigent Defense Services


Counties spend more than $70.2 billion every year on justice and public safety, and in many jurisdictions a major part of this is the provision of public defense services – providing attorneys to defendants who cannot afford to hire one on their own. The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an individual the right to have the assistance of counsel for his defense, and the Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright held that states bear the responsibility for providing such counsel. In many states, however, this function has been passed to the counties, leading to overburdened systems and increasingly high costs.

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 be automatically 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.



3 weeks ago | 0

Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Toolkits for Youth

Written by Emmanuelle St. Jean, NACo Program Manager.

Exposure to Substance Use Prevention Messages and Programs Among Youths Aged 12 to 17: 2002-2013
Pages from NSDUHresults2013.jpg

Less than 1 out of 10 youths aged 12 to 17 currently use drugs illicitly. According to the recently released 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, this rate is lower than those from 2009 to 2012.[1]  Furthermore, 1.7 percent of 12 to 17-year olds currently used prescription drugs such as pain relievers, stimulants (e.g. ADHD medications), sedatives and tranquilizers. The lower rates in the use of prescription drugs may be the result of the prescription drug abuse prevention work of many counties and organizations.

Interestingly, the study also reported that 73.5 percent of teenagers who were engaged in drug or alcohol prevention education obtained those messages outside of school. This is a decline from 83.6 percent in 2003 and 75.9 percent in 2012.  The decline is significant as it impacts how teenagers and others perceive prescription drugs and other substances. Understanding that prescription drugs are intended for those to whom they was prescribed to using specific methods is critical to preventing the misuse and abuse of prescription medications.

To aid in messaging, thePartnership for Drug-Free Kids has released a new Above the Influence toolkitto assist ...

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3 weeks ago | 0